Duggan's administration endorses plan to allow hazardous materials on Ambassador Bridge

Jan 26, 2021 at 2:49 pm
click to enlarge Ambassador Bridge in Southwest Detroit. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
Ambassador Bridge in Southwest Detroit.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration has endorsed a controversial proposal to allow trucks to transport hazardous and toxic materials across the Ambassador Bridge.

In a Jan. 13 memo to City Council members, four city departments indicated they don’t oppose Detroit International Bridge Co.’s (DIBC) request for trucks to carry fuel, flammable chemicals, and corrosive materials over the 91-year-old span, Crain’s Detroit Business first reported.

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), which is weighing the company’s proposal, said it wouldn’t sign off on the plan if local agencies object.

In the memo, Detroit’s Building, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department said that while it “does not object” to the DIBC’s request, it does “highly recommend continued public outreach, specially with southwest Detroit residents."

"It is important for the residents to understand the transportation corridors that will be utilized, as well as the method used while safely transporting materials between Detroit and Canada," BESEED said.

Three schools and two public parks are near the bridge, and the Sierra Club said that allowing hazardous materials to cross the span “could be catastrophic” because it’s old, isn’t sufficiently inspected, and lacks proper technology and safety protocols.

Since 1929, MDOT has banned many hazardous materials from crossing the Ambassador Bridge. Hazardous materials are currently trucked across the international border via the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry and Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

DIBC officials insist that those routes are more dangerous because hazardous materials are forced to take more circuitous routes that cover a larger area, which increases the risk of an accident. The trucks also pass through more densely populated neighborhoods in the state, they argue.

Late last year, Michigan lawmakers tucked a provision into the COVID-19 relief bill that would have allowed trucks to use the bridge to carry hazardous materials, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a veto.

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