October 31, 2012

International Bridge 50th Anniversary

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, the International Bridge at Sault St. Marie stands as an enduring, visible reminder of the connection Michigan has with our neighbor to the north. This nearly 2-mile expanse, quite literally, brings communities in Michigan and Canada closer together, forging a mutually beneficial partnership in the process. To commemorate the construction of the bridge, a new, patriotic lighting scheme will be introduced on the American side of the bridge this week.
Thousands of vehicles cross this bridge each day. In fact, in 2007 alone, nearly 2 million cars traversed this roadway. This bridge is a pathway for commerce and trade; it is a convenient way for families separated by a short distance, but still a Nation apart to visit; and it supports recreation and tourism, which are central to the economies of many of Michigan's communities. Designed by Dr. Carl Gronquist, this sprawling structure has buoyed a number of industries important to Michigan, including steel, paper and forestry.

Before the International Bridge opened to traffic on October 31, 1962, Michiganians crossed the St. Mary's River either by car ferry or by railway. The need for a more efficient means to connect Sault Ste. Marie, MI and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario was evident. In response, in 1940, Congress approved an international crossing in Sault Ste. Marie, and in 1955, the Canadian Parliament established the St. Mary's Bridge Company to facilitate and oversee an international crossing. The $16 million construction project that ensued lasted nearly 2 years and gave way to the structure we enjoy today.

Connecting Sault Ste. Marie with a city of 75,000 in Ontario that also serves as an important international trade crossing in Northwestern Ontario has been very beneficial. The theme of this celebration--Celebrating 50 years of International Friendship--speaks powerfully to this point. I also would like to recognize the work of the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority and the International Bridge Administration for their tremendous work and dedication. The work that is done each day to ensure an efficient and steady flow of traffic across this bridge has positively impacted the lives of Michiganians and countless businesses for the last half century. As we look toward the future, it is important to preserve and maintain the International Bridge for future generations.


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