A new research study titled “Economic Effects of Interruption of Capacity on the Ambassador Bridge,” released by Michael H. Belzer, Ph.D., Wayne State University and the University of Michigan in association with Global Insight, provides an economic impact estimation analysis involving the Ambassador Bridge closings for four hours, two days, one week and two weeks. The study reports that a two-week disruption of the Ambassador Bridge would most likely cost the southeast Michigan and Ontario, Canada economies a net loss of over $US1.6 billion ($CA2.3 billion).

The new research reports that in 2001, the total value of trade between the United States and Canada reached $US346.6 billion ($CA485.2 billion) and that the Ambassador Bridge carried approximately 25% of that value or $US86.7 million ($CA121.3 million). In addition, Global Insight forecasts that the total value of trade between the two countries will increase approximately two and one half times to $US866.5 billion ($CA1,213.1 billion) by the year 2021 in current dollars.

“As the recent blackout on August 14, 2003 demonstrated, the Ambassador Bridge is vulnerable to unplanned disruptions and can cause untold economic problems at the Detroit/Windsor gateway which is the world’s busiest border. Other things that might occur to shut down the bridge include fatal accidents on or near the bridge, water main breaks, structural failures, mechanical breakdown of cars or trucks on the bridge, and labour problems to name a few. Of course, security risks must also be taken into account,” said Dr. Belzer.

Short-term closures of the Ambassador Bridge would cause significant economic impact on the region. The study estimates that a mere four-hour shutdown would cost the regional economy over $US15.4 million ($CA21.3 million). Extending the potential closure/disruption to two days ups the net loss to over $US130 million ($CA180.8 million). And, if the disruption should last just two weeks, the cost to the southeast Michigan and Ontario, Canada economies would reach over $US1.6 billion ($CA2.3 billion).

The auto industry located in southeast Michigan and Ontario, Canada would be hardest hit because it relies on Just-In-Time deliveries for efficient operation of its plants. The new study estimates that a two-week shutdown of the Ambassador Bridge would result in a net loss to the auto industry of over $US689.6 million ($CA965.4 million). One of the major conclusions of the report states, “The loss of a reliable truck border crossing between Windsor and Detroit would likely result in the eventual loss of automotive jobs in Windsor and in the corridor stretching between Windsor towards London.”