Canada to loan $550 million to Michigan for bridge project

| 4/30/2010

A new border bridge that would compete with the Ambassador Bridge at Detroit-Windsor is a step closer to becoming reality. The Canadian government stepped in this week and pledged $550 million to help the state of Michigan pay for its share of the costs.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says the new bridge is all about jobs. She said a new crossing would immediately create 10,000 jobs, another 30,000 indirect jobs later and sustain more than 200,000 Michigan jobs overall.

“This is in fact a terrific step in the right direction for jobs for Michigan,” Granholm told the press on Thursday, April 29.

“Today, what the government of Canada has done is essentially recognize that Michigan has some budget troubles, and they have agreed to partner with the U.S. government to bear the cost of the Detroit River International Crossing.”

The Canadian federal government pledged $550 million that would be paid off over time from a portion of toll revenue on the new bridge.

Truckers would welcome options provided by a second border bridge in the region, OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce said.

“This is a step in the right direction for truckers that haul international good across the border to have some options besides just one bridge crossing,” Joyce said. “Hopefully the competition between the two bridges will keep rates lower than having one bridge and one option for toll rates.”

But there’s still a ways to go before construction can begin.

For starters, the state House and Senate must pass legislation that would authorize the bridge to be built as a public-private partnership. The bill immediately cleared the state House Transportation Committee following the Canadian loan announcement.

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun is also attempting to stand in the way. Moroun wants to build his own new bridge and operate it privately, just as he does with the Ambassador.

But the U.S. Coast Guard recently rejected a key permit filed by Moroun, and a judge in Wayne County Court has ordered Moroun to demolish a toll booth and other structures that were constructed illegally on land owned by the city of Detroit.

Congestion and capacity issues with the aging Ambassador Bridge prompted the all-out bridge battle. 

Approximately 10,000 commercial trucks cross the Ambassador Bridge each day. It is considered to be North America’s busiest border crossing.

– By David Tanner, associate editor