Ambassador Bridge blockade taking its toll on automakers, Michigan’s economy

The eerie quiet at the international bridge is a problem for automakers

DETROIT – The ever-busy Ambassador Bridge was empty Friday night, devoid of the truck traffic usually seen seven days a week, which means that commerce in both directions is without more than $13 million an hour.

Protesters denouncing some of Canada’s COVID protocols have gathered in demonstrations throughout the country -- including in Windsor, where traffic across the international Ambassador Bridge has been disrupted for five days.

The disruption to trade is creating a problem for automakers, who are already struggling with parts and chip shortages.

Michigan auto workers have lost roughly $51 million in wages this week due to the bridge blockade, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is sounding the alarm.

“There are Michiganders who are hard-working simply want to show up to their job, and they’re out of work right now,” said Whitmer. “This is having a huge impact, and we are pushing on the Canadian government to resolve this swiftly and safely because every minute this goes on, it’s incredibly damaging to the economy and to our people.”

Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce President Sandy Baruah agrees with the governor.

“The supply chain is always incredibly fragile and has been exceptionally fragile during COVID, and this is the last thing the U.S. or Michigan economies need,” said Baruah.

Read: Plants temporarily shut down as Ambassador Bridge blockade drags on

On Friday, Ford Motor Co. announced plant closures for next week due to chip shortages.

The Ohio Assembly Plant, where they make the F-750-650 and Super Duty Chassis will be down. The Ontario Engine Plant will also be closed because it supplies Ohio Assembly.

The Kansas City Assembly, where they build the transit, will also be closed.

Some plants will remain open, but with fewer crews and shifts.

The Kentucky Truck plant -- where they make the F-250, Expedition and Navigator -- and the Chicago Assembly plant -- where they build the Explorer and Aviator SUVs -- will operate on only two shifts.

Down to one shift is Dearborn Truck, where they build the F-150.

Related: Protesters defy court order to end blockade at Ambassador Bridge

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.