Detroit — Officials overseeing plans to build the $2.1 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge project addressed concerns from the public at a meeting Wednesday, including worries over quality-of-life issues such as noise and air pollution.
The concerns from Detroiters come as construction is scheduled to start in 2018 to build the span that will link Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
“Will we be able to plant our vegetable gardens and eat what we plant?” was a question asked in writing by Detroiter Lisa Myers, 56.
Andrew Doctoroff, special projects adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder’s Office, tried to reassure her.
“Every adverse impact environmentally that theoretically could result should be fully mitigated,” he said. “So the answer to your question is yes, you will have a good and enhanced quality of life.”
But Myers told The Detroit News that she still had doubts.
“We’ve seen it all,” Myers said. “If everything is so safe, why are my neighbors getting air filters? I’ve got seven grandkids, and they’re out there in the garden digging along with me. Pollution will not just be 300 feet away.”
Charity Dean, director of the Bridging Neighborhood Program for the City of Detroit, stood nearby and tried to explain why some residents were receiving anti-pollution help and others weren’t.
“It’s because some residents are not within the boundaries,” she said.
Mohammed Alghurabi, senior project manner from the Michigan Department of Transportation, told the audience: “We are looking at the air and noise issues with a fresh set of eyes, and we’re doing extensive reevaluation to address all impacts, and we will report on it to make sure it is done within guidelines and regulations.”
Forty posters with information about the bridge were displayed throughout the room at Historic Fort Wayne on Wednesday, and a slide presentation provided other data. Representatives from the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority were joined by partners from MDOT and Doctoroff, the representative from Snyder’s office.
Other issues discussed included I-75 ramps’ anticipated hourly traffic, morning, midday and evening peaks, anticipated speed on ramps, relocation of utilities, how many properties have been acquired on the U.S. side (93 percent) and possible job opportunities.
Canada is supplying Michigan’s $550 million share of the bridge between Detroit and Windsor, which will have to be repaid through tolls.