Canadian cabinet official testifies for bridge project

LANSING, MI – A senior member of the Canadian cabinet testified before a state Senate committee Tuesday to urge lawmakers to move forward with building a new international bridge in Detroit. Canadian Minister of Transport John Baird attempted to calm fears that his country's offer to pay Michigan's share of the project is an attempt to take it over.

Transport Minister John Baird says the Detroit bridge would be operated as a partnership with Michigan just like the Blue Water Bridge in Bay City and the International Bridge in Sault Sainte Marie.

He says the offer to pay up to half a billion dollars is a recognition that a new bridge on North America's busiest border is critical to the security and the economies of the US and Canada.

"Both countries, and particularly Michigan and Ontario, have been hit by the worst global economic recession since World War Two," Baird says.

Construction workers wearing orange t-shirts filled the hearing room. They cheered when Baird told the committee the project would create thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.

"Let's get on with it and get those jobs created right now," Baird says.

The new bridge is opposed by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge. That's currently the only bridge connecting the U-S and Canada on the Detroit River.