Truckers reroute to avoid protest-closed bridge

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Cross-border truck drivers are taking an alternate route to get around protesters, causing backups at another crossing between Michigan and Ontario.

Protesters seeking an end to pandemic restrictions have been blocking traffic at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, for several days. Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV reported that as of Wednesday, the bridge was closed for Ontario-bound traffic but drivers were still able to enter the U.S. from Canada.

Commercial truckers are being advised to travel north to the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, causing traffic there to back up for miles.

The Ambassador Bridge is touted as the nation’s busiest international border crossing. The slowdown in shipments sparked concern among transportation leaders about the impact amid COVID-led supply chain and staffing shortages on Michigan businesses relying on transported goods.

Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner with fuel, vehicles, machinery, and plastics making up much of the trade.

Omar Alghabra, Canadian Minister of Transport, said the Ambassador Bridge blockade is forcing some factories to send workers home and interfering with access to food.

"This is an illegal economic blockade against the people of Ontario and against all Canadians. Please, to all those that are at those illegal blockades. Go home," Alghabra said.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins said the focus is on de-escalating the situation, saying the community will not tolerate the disruption for long.

"The economic and social harm that these protests are having here in Windsor and Ottawa and across Canada, is quite significant," Dilkins said.

Dilkins said leadership is also required from the provincial and federal governments to resolve the protests.

Elsewhere, police reported that protesters have again started blocking a major border crossing between Alberta and Montana. Protesters have been at the Coutts crossing for nearly two weeks but had stopped blocking traffic last week.

In Ottawa, more than 400 trucks continue to block roads around Canadian Parliament.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the Biden administration is "very closely" watching the protests. She said they a risk to the U.S. supply chain and workers in both the United States and Canada and the White House is working with Canadian officials to take a number of proactive steps to work around the demonstrations.

The Associated Press and WXYZ-TV contributed to this report.