Detroit-Windsor bridge project could open in 2020

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 8/18/2014

A proposed new international bridge that would connect Detroit, Mich., and Windsor, Ontario, Canada, is making progress according to government officials on both sides of the border.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt recently announced the appointment of a six-member panel to oversee the construction of the $950 billion, six-lane Detroit River International Crossing, or DRIC.

Snyder and Raitt appointed three members each to the International Authority, an entity created in the crossing agreement signed in 2012 by both parties.

The International Authority is in place to monitor compliance of crossing agreement. Another panel, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority on the Canadian side, is working to attract private investors to make the bridge a public-private partnership.

Paying off the project over the long-term will most likely involve tolls.

The project has not officially broken ground, but Snyder and Raitt are promoting its completion in 2020.

First proposed in 2002, the DRIC – also known as the New International Trade Crossing in Michigan – would provide an alternative to the nearby Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Windsor. It would also compete with the Blue Water Bridge that connects Port Huron, Mich., and Sarnia, Ontario.

The project has garnered support and numerous agreements on both sides of the border. The federal government of Canada has even promised to chip in millions to help finance Michigan’s share of the up-front construction costs.

The DRIC has also faced opposition, mainly from Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun, who even paid for a ballot measure in Michigan in 2012 to restrict the state government’s role in the project. The ballot measure failed.

Even with oversight panels in place and the project making progress, the governments on both sides still have some sorting out to do. Michigan must still figure out who is paying to acquire the right-of-way along the Detroit River, and the question of who will pay to build the international customs plaza on the Michigan side has not yet been answered.

Gov. Snyder is calling on Congress to approve federal funding. 

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