WATCH ABOVE: During an announcement Thursday morning in Windsor, Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled the name of the new bridge linking Windsor and Detroit, which will be christened after “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe.
The new vital link between Windsor and Detroit is yet to be built but already has a name — Gordie Howe International Bridge.
Saskatchewan-born Howe, also known as “Mr. Hockey” played 25 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.
The hockey legend was not on hand for the announcement, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the trip.
“Let me just give you a couple of reasons why I think it’s such an appropriate name; first of all, this is joining, as I said, two countries, two jurisdictions, two communities in what is a very strong and important relationship. And I don’t think we could think of a better person who symbolizes that relationship than Gordie Howe.”
Harper said Howe is not only a legend and national hero in Canada, but also an idol for generations of people in Detroit and Michigan.
Harper said the bridge will help link the Canada and U.S. economies for years to come.
The existing Ambassador Bridge, linking the U.S. and Canada in that area, handles a third of all trade between the countries.
The new span will cost around $4 billion in total when costs for infrastructure work, freeway interchanges and customs plazas in both countries are figured in. It’s expected to open in 2020.
While Canada is set to cover the entire cost of the bridge, Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt has said it will not be on the backs of taxpayers as the costs will be recouped through tolls and a public-private partnership.
The beloved hockey legend, now 87 years old, has been battling health issues. He suffered a stroke in late 2014; earlier this year his family said Howe’s health was improving after undergoing stem cell treatment.
Howe’s children were in Windsor for the naming. His son Murray said when he told his father the bridge would be named after him, Howe said “that sounds pretty good to me.” He said is father was “deeply moved by this gracious gesture.”
WATCH ABOVE: Dr. Murray Howe, the son of hockey legend Gordie Howe, described his family history in relation to the Windsor area.