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Ambassador Bridge closure could add more supply chain issues for auto industry

Ambassador Bridge closure
Posted at 10:25 PM, Feb 08, 2022

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Silent and empty: The busiest international land border in all of North America closed for business in Detroit as protests over Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers continues to block traffic in Windsor.

As of Tuesday evening, the Detroit International Bridge Company said traffic coming from Windsor into Detroit is open, but traffic going from Detroit to Windsor remains closed.

"Thanks to exceptional Windsor Police Services and Freedom Convoy negotiations, inbound traffic from Windsor to Detroit is now fully open. Traffic into Canada from Detroit is still closed and is being rerouted to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron," the company said in a statement. "The Detroit International Bridge Company hopes for a swift resolution that will allow traffic to flow unimpeded."

“Nobody is here to help,” Canadian truck driver Harry Minhes said as he waited on the side of the road in Detroit Tuesday.

Some drivers like Minhes spent Monday night in their trucks, stuck in the U.S. with no food as they waited for the bridge to reopen. He lives just 15 minutes away in Windsor.

“We are Canadians, we’re supposed to go home. That is also our right, to go home,” Minhes said.

As the day went on, most truckers gave up waiting, driving nearly two hours to Port Huron to cross the Blue Water Bridge. That has lead to more backups. And by late Tuesday evening, the Canadian government said the wait there grew to more than three and a half hours.

“Ideally, we want it to wrap up as soon as possible,” said Mike Wall, an auto expert with IHS Markit.

Wall says the crossing is vital to the auto industry, and the longer the closure goes on, the greater the impact it will have on an already fragile supply chain.

“If this were to kind of continue on for multiple days, you’re going to start to see the impact reverberate through the supply chain,” Wall said. “It doesn't take long to really have an impact really in the broader supply chain and affect vehicle production.”

According to the Detroit International Bridge Company, trucks carry more than $323 million in goods across the bridge every single day. Wall says much of that is auto parts, engines and vehicles connecting nearby Canadian plants and suppliers to the Motor City.

“We're kind of one big happy family as it relates to automotive,” Wall said of the Windsor and Detroit areas. "It's a perfect combination when all the cogs are working but boy, when you get an interruption like that it can be incredibly disruptive.”

While Windsor police were able to open the bridge to U.S. bound traffic, protesters continue to stop incoming traffic as some Canadian drivers stuck in the U.S say the protests aimed at the Prime Minister are only hurting them.

“We are the ones who are suffering," Minhes said. "Mr. Trudeau is sitting down at his home having his food and coffee and everything. We are the ones stuck on the road right? This is terrible.”