(WINDSOR, ON) – With more and more agencies raising the question of whether the Gordie Howe Bridge is even needed, in the wake of the approval of the Ambassador Bridge replacement span, there is now a move that could possibly kybosh the government bridge for good.
Even though traffic across the Ambassador has dropped 44% since 2000, the $1 Billion project to replace the crossing is expected to get going this summer. Meanwhile, the Canadian taxpayer-sponsored, $4 Billion Gordie Howe Bridge is going to RFP, this summer as well.
Ahead of the selection process getting underway, the Detroit International Bridge Company is petitioning the Trump Administration in Washington to rescind Barack Obama’s exemption of Canada to observe Buy American rules.
As it stands, any construction of the GHB will be exempt from having to use American-made steel.
One of the suitors in the Canadian P3 project will be Aecon Group, which is currently changing over to Chinese ownership. The deal is being reviewed by the Trudeau government, but as Bloomberg puts it, “That raises the prospect of a bridge being built into Detroit by a Chinese company, for the Canadian government, under an exemption from Buy American rules, and over complaints from a U.S. company.”
Canada will fight to keep the Buy American waiver. At the moment, Canada and Mexico have tariff exemptions on steel while NAFTA talks take place. On March 8, Trump slapped a 25% tariff on imported steel and 10% on foreign aluminum.
“The actions we’re taking today are not a matter of choice,” Trump said. “They’re a matter of necessity for our national security. They drove our plants out of business.”
The levy exemption for Canada is not written in stone and could be overturned at any time. What Canada is willing to give up in NAFTA to maintain the waiver is anyone’s guess. Losing it could drive the price to build the GHB to the point of making it too expensive, both realistically and politically.
The Ambassador Bridge owners are actively lobbying Trump to overturn the Democrats’ Buy American waiver. Losing the steel exemption could be the fatal blow to the Gordie Howe Bridge.