Detroit-Windsor border bridge on track with funding from Canada

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Friday, February 20, 2015

The U.S. and Canada traded approximately $658 billion worth of goods in 2014, and one-quarter of that trade passed through the Detroit-Windsor corridor. Officials have announced that a future new border bridge in the corridor will move forward after clearing another of the few remaining hurdles. The New International Trade Crossing project will give trucks and cars an alternative to the Ambassador Bridge.

U.S., Canadian and Michigan state officials announced on Wednesday, Feb. 18, that they have reached a deal on the construction and staffing of U.S. Customs and Border Protection service plazas on the Detroit side. That portion of the project requires an initial investment of $100 million plus $50 million a year according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

According to a report, Canada will add $250 million for service plazas to the $2 billion investment it is making on the front end to bring the bridge project to fruition. The U.S. will pay to staff the plazas.

Tolls collected on the U.S. side of the bridge will pay back the Canadian government for its investment as part of a public-private partnership involving government and private vendors.

The New International Trade Crossing will link Interstates 75 and 94 on the U.S. side to Ontario’s Hwy. 401 on the Windsor side via a six-lane bridge and service plazas. Land acquisitions began in 2013, nine years after the project was first proposed.

Last year, the governments involved appointed the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority and the International Authority to oversee the project and the bridge.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said in August 2014 that they expect the bridge to be up and running in 2020.

The nearby Ambassador Bridge, which opened in 1929, is considered the busiest border bridge in North America. Billionaire owner and trucking mogul Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who has owned the Ambassador Bridge since 1979, has proposed expanding his bridge while opposing the government-funded bridge downstream.

Lawsuits, ballot measures and attempts to stop the New International Trade Crossing have failed.

The Ambassador Bridge puts traffic on the Canadian side onto Windsor city streets, something Moroun proposed to change by building new ramps to and from Hwy. 401. Delays and legal actions worked against Moroun, who even spent a night in jail for failing to meet a court-ordered deadline to make progress.

Moroun has made millions from the bridge and as the controlling interest in LTL carrier Central Transport International and Universal Truckload Services.

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