The plummeting loonie has forced the Canadian government to find up to C$4.8 billion — more than double the original US$2.1-billion estimate — to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge, according to a government document obtained by Canadian Press.
Early construction on the new Windsor-Detroit bridge started last summer with $630 million already budgeted for the project by the former Harper government in Ottawa.But new documents show Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been warned the cost of the project — which includes plazas and a new feeder road linking with I-75 in Detroit — has likely gone up by at least $2 billion due to the declining value of the Canadian dollar.
Government officials told Trudeau the project would also need an extra $1.5 billion in a contingency fund to bear the shock of any interest rate increases should the loonie decline further against its American counterpart, CP reported.The Canadian government’s long-term fiscal framework has the price of the bridge pegged at $4.8 billion. The details are laid out in a secret briefing note to Trudeau obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Mark Butler, spokesman for the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, says "certain U.S. denominated costs may translate into a higher Canadian dollar expenditure because of the exchange rate.”
Matt Marchand, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce, said the focus should remain on the billions of dollars in Canada-U.S. trade crossing the Windsor-Detroit border and not the bridge’s construction costs. “This is still the most important trading relationship perhaps in the world."
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said far too much has already gone into preparation for the Howe bridge project for there to be any delay or shelving of construction. “This is a critical piece of infrastructure that has been discussed and planned for over a decade and a half. We are too far down the road with all the preparation — and construction of the parkway leading into it — that to stop construction of the bridge now would be unreasonable.”
Source: Dave Battagello, Windsor Star