Thank you Kirk and good morning everyone.
It is a distinct honour to be here today to represent Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority – the Canadian Crown corporation responsible for the delivery of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
I join others on this stage who have been incredibly instrumental in moving our project to where it is today.
Governor Snyder has referred to himself as “one tough nerd” but I suggest that a better moniker would be “one tough advocate”.
I thank you Governor and, indeed all of our other friends who will be speaking here today, for your continued support of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
I have been occupied, in one way or another, with transportation infrastructure projects for many years. In fact, in 2006, infrastructure spending, specifically new spending on public transit projects, was the focus of my first budget as Ontario’s Finance Minister.
For almost two decades, I have been involved with governments’ efforts in building what is now known as the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit.
So, it is also with great personal pleasure that I am here today at the groundbreaking of Michigan advance construction.
Less than two weeks ago, I announced the selection of Bridging North America as the Preferred Proponent to design, build, finance, operate and maintain our new bridge.
Today, we are poised to start critical advance works, including geotechnical exploration and construction of test piles for the main bridge, here in Detroit.
Starting this work now is vitally important. It helps reduce risk and will contribute to the project schedule.
In parallel to this work, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority will continue to work toward finalizing the public-private partnership procurement process and reach Financial Close by the end of September.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a clear demonstration that Canada and Michigan are fully committed to this project.
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority is single-minded in its determination to build the much-needed Gordie Howe International Bridge as expeditiously as possible.
The Government of Canada has been equally steadfast in its commitment to this project.
And, of course, Governor Snyder has been unwavering in his support.
That is why business and industry, community groups, trade unions and local governments have endorsed the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
They understand that the Gordie Howe International Bridge will help to retain existing jobs and create new jobs.
They know that the Gordie Howe International Bridge will be a catalyst for trade and increased economic development.
They know that communities on both sides of the border will benefit both during the construction and operations of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
They know that there is commitment and they can witness it here today.
Ladies and gentlemen, today is a significant milestone for the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
And there will be many more achievements over the coming months and years.
I thank you all for joining us at this pivotal time in the history of our project and I thank you for your continued support.