DETROIT - Officials announced Friday that the Gordie Howe International Bridge project will cost about $4.4 billion, and the bridge is expected to open by 2024.
When Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder first approved the project, cost estimates were between $1 billion and $2 billion. Now, with Snyder heading out of office, the all-in estimate is just under $6 billon in Canadian dollars, or $4.4 billion in American dollars.
New renderings show what the cable-stayed, or dual-column, bridge will look like, according to the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.
The expected life span of the bridge is 125 years.
The Canadian government is financing the deal, and tolls will pay the tab over time.
Dwight Duncan, chair of the WDBA Board of Directors, strongly defended the plans and the costs.
"This is actually very good value for the money," Duncan said.
Officials said the Gordie Howe Bridge will be the largest cable-stayed bridge in North America when it's finished.
It will have six lanes as well as bicycle and pedestrian lanes, and will be able to accept hazardous waste, unlike the Ambassador Bridge, officials said.
The bridge is expected to create 2,500 jobs, and about the same will open on both sides of the Detroit River.
Duncan said 7,000 trucks go back and forth at the crossing each day, and he expects that traffic will increase once the new bridge is operating.
"Over the life of this bridge, there will be good economies where traffic's up, and it will always trend up based on the advice I've had from a number of experts," Duncan said. "We have bigger problems than the bridge."
Ceremonial shovels will be put in the ground Oct. 5 for groundbreaking. Workers have been building on the Canadian side of the river for years, and the site preparation in Detroit began earlier this year.
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