On this day in 1930, at 12:05 am, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel between the United States and Canada is officially opened to car traffic. As Windsor Mayor Frederick Jackson had bragged at the tunnel’s elaborate dedication ceremony two days before, the structure–the only international subaqueous tunnel in the world at the time–made it possible to “pass from one great country to the other in the short space of three minutes.”
For his part, Detroit Mayor Frank Murphy cheered that the project signified “a new appreciation of our desire to preserve peace, friendship, and the brotherhood of man.” The first passenger car through the tunnel was a 1929 Studebaker. As a function of Murphy’s steady stewardship, he would go on to serve as Governor of Michigan, U.S. Attorney General and Justice of the Supreme Court.
The tunnel is the second busiest crossing between the United States and Canada after the nearby Ambassador Bridge. A 2004 Border Transportation Partnership study showed that 150,000 jobs in the region and $13 billion (USD) in annual production depend on the Windsor-Detroit international border crossing. Between 2001 and 2005, profits from the tunnel peaked, with the cities receiving over $6 million annually. A steep decline in traffic eliminated profits from the tunnel from 2008 until 2012, with a growing recovery in the years since.
Just weeks ago, dignitaries including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were on hand in Windsor to mark the official start of construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Once completed in six years, this second span between the formerly friendly neighbors will cost $5.7 billion, rise to the height of the Ren Cen, and feature a biking/walking path.
And here your subaqueous story endeth.
A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan.
Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.