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Ambassador Bridge delays continue as protests over Canada's COVID-19 restrictions persist

Ambassador Bridge
J. Stephen Conn
Two joggers run under the Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit to Windsor

Updated: Thurs., Feb. 10 at 12:32 p.m.:

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued a statement urging Canadian authorities to quickly resolve the ongoing closure of the Ambassador Bridge.

The bumper-to-bumper anti-vaccine demonstration by Canadian truck drivers has entered its fourth day.

The Ambassador Bridge remains closed, in the direction from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. This has been forcing Ford, Toyota and General Motors to shut down plants or otherwise curtail production in the U.S. or Canada.

GM canceled the second shift yesterday, and the first shift today, at its midsize SUV factory outside Lansing.

Whitmer said in a statement:

“My message is simple: reopen traffic on the bridge.

In Michigan, our economy continues to grow because of our hardworking people and innovative small businesses. Now, that momentum is at risk. Commercial traffic is at a standstill at the Ambassador Bridge and heavily backed up at the Blue Water Bridge.

The blockade is having a significant impact on Michigan’s working families who are just trying to do their jobs. Our communities and automotive, manufacturing, and agriculture businesses are feeling the effects. It’s hitting paychecks and production lines. That is unacceptable.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest land border crossing in North America, used by tens of thousands of commuters and truck drivers carrying hundreds of millions of dollars of goods every day. Countless Michiganders rely on this daily flow of goods and people to get things done.

It is imperative that Canadian local, provincial, and national governments de-escalate this economic blockade. They must take all necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic so we can continue growing our economy, supporting good-paying jobs, and lowering costs for families.”

Original story: Wed., Feb. 9 at 5:33 p.m.:

A protest that began over Canada’s requirement that all truck drivers who cross into the U.S. be fully vaccinated has delayed travel over the Ambassador Bridge for more than two days.

The bridge connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, and is the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada.

In a Wednesday press conference, Windsor Police Chief Pamela Mizuno said that about 100 people were protesting in the city. The demonstration caused delays in both Detroit and Canada.

Officials have advised drivers to take the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia or the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. But the Blue Water Bridge has also been the site of backups caused by protests, and the tunnel has cargo restrictions for truckers.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he remains very concerned about the lasting impact these protests will have on the region.

"Every hour this protest continues, our community hurts. Thousands of workers feed their families because of the commerce made possible by the Ambassador Bridge," Dilkins said. "Hundreds of local auto parts companies stay in business because of the movement of goods across the Ambassador Bridge."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a Wednesday press conference that the Biden Administration is watching the situation "very closely."

"The Ambassador Bridge is Canada’s busiest link to the United States, and it accounts for about 25% of trade between the two countries," she said. "The blockade poses a risk to supply chains for the auto industry because the bridge is a key conduit for motor vehicles, components and parts, and delays risk disrupting auto production."

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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