Ambassador Bridge repair work expected to snarl traffic at the busy border crossing

Posted at 7:01 PM, Sep 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-05 19:01:40-04

If you're one of the thousands of people who cross the Ambassador Bridge daily you'll likely need to pack even more patience in the days and weeks ahead.

That's because of a new order from the Canadian government to the bridge owner.

It's the busiest border crossing in North America for trade, but traffic is bound to slow because of the current condition of the bridge.

The Ambassador Bridge is 86-years old and railings and curbs on a section of the span have deteriorated to the point that two-by-fours have been installed.

Concern over its condition and the slowness of repair work by the bridge company has prompted a directive from Transport Canada for safety reasons.

The government agency is requiring temporary concrete barriers between traffic and the outside curb as a safety precaution.

Driving the bridge from Windsor it's clear to see the issues and reason for concern.

"The times you go across and you see these barriers, the railings are ready to fall off,” says Larry Cookson. “Why has it taken so long? It's not like Mr. Maroun don't have money to get on this."

The Detroit International Bridge Company, owned by the Maroun family, has been fighting to stop the construction of a second bridge over the Detroit River while trying to also secure Canadian government approval to add a second span to the Ambassador Bridge.

A statement to 7 Action News reads in part:

We continue repairs and maintenance work on the existing bridge. The referenced repairs are underway and were started last year. We are cooperating fully on both matters with Transport Canada.

There was no issue crossing this morning, but the concrete barriers pinching traffic will likely impact traffic flow going forward.

"Why would you want to risk all that commerce, on both sides of the river, right? We depend on it so much, on both sides, so why the delays in getting to and making it safe for everybody, especially the truckers?” Cookson asks. “Cause every day you look, they're lined up - one end to the other.”

The Canadian Border Services Agency anticipates lane closures and delays.

In a statement, it says it is working closely with emergency officials on both sides of the border and quote "monitoring the situation and acting to minimize traffic disruptions and border wait times while maintaining the safety and security of all travellers."

We'll have to wait and see how all this impacts commuters and commercial truckers starting Tuesday.