New border crossing announced for Detroit-Windsor

| 6/18/2008

The announcement that officials have chosen a site for a new border bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is welcome news for truckers who are frequently caught up in customs delays or who are not allowed to haul hazardous loads across the aging Ambassador Bridge.

Canadian officials gathered Wednesday, June 18, in Windsor to announce the preferred site on the Canadian side for a new bridge, customs plaza and access roads in the Brighton Beach area of West Windsor. A new access parkway would connect the bridge to Canada’s busiest highway, provincial Highway 401, and reduce the need for trucks to travel more than five miles on local roads to access the Ambassador Bridge.

U.S. officials are not scheduled to announce details for the Detroit side until after the Federal Highway Administration completes an environmental review. Generally speaking, the Detroit side of the bridge would be located in the River Rouge area with access to Interstate 75.

The total cost of the project is in excess of $3 billion. Construction could begin as early as mid-2009 and the bridge could be complete sometime in 2013 or 2014, officials said Wednesday.

Trucker John Minegan, an OOIDA member from Windsor, has dealt with border congestion and has had to reroute because of hazmat obstacles for years. He welcomed news of an alternative route in his home area.

“Good news for a lot of us. Economically, this will be great,” Minegan told Land Line Magazine. “I never believed I would see this happen in my lifetime.”

The Ambassador Bridge, owned privately by business mogul Matty Moroun, will continue to operate. It is currently the busiest border crossing in North America and handles 1.6 million truck crossings each year. Total traffic crossings come to more than 10 times that amount.

Unlike the Ambassador Bridge, the new bridge will be owned by the federal government of Canada and the state of Michigan. Government officials are not ruling out public-private partnerships as an option for construction and management of operations outside the scope of the Canadian Border Services Agency, Canadian Minister of Transportation Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday.

A binational commission called the Detroit River International Crossing has been studying possible routes for more than three years, finally deciding to build a 1.5-mile structure connecting the Brighton Beach area to River Rouge. The design of the bridge is not complete, but officials said it will either be a suspension or cable-stay structure.

One of the possible routes in early discussions was a twin span for the Ambassador Bridge, but that plan was scrapped. A proposed tunnel for trucks only was also scrapped.

Cannon and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day said the bridge will meet 21st century needs for efficiency, security and economic prosperity.

Click here to view information posted by the Detroit River International Crossing.

– By David Tanner, staff writer