New Detroit River International Crossing Becoming a Reality
Currently there is one bridge, the Ambassador Bridge, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. The bridge is 83 years old, built with an expected useful life of 50 years. Elected officials and business people on both sides of the border have been pushing a new publicly financed crossing for many years. In support of these efforts, the TMACOG Executive Committee approved a resolution in favor of a new crossing in 2010. Finally, in June 2012, Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder and Canadian officials announced an agreement that lays the groundwork for the New International Trade Crossing (NITC). At the announcement ceremony, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the NITC is “the most important infrastructure project in North America.”
Dr. Roy Norton, Consul General of Canada based in Detroit, said a new bridge is needed to protect jobs and business in Ohio. “There are three hundred thousand jobs in Ohio that depend on Canadian trade. Half of that trade crosses the Ambassador Bridge.” He said if there should be a problem that closes the Ambassador, plant closures in Ohio would happen very shortly as parts and materials became stranded in Ontario. Using other access points would add 500 miles to the trip between northwest Ohio and Canada, increasing costs and delaying operations. “A new bridge is insurance for business,” Dr. Norton said. “It provides certainty to businesses that depend on accessing markets and securing goods.”
Features of the NITC agreement state:
- Michigan is not obligated to pay any of the NITC’s costs and no state appropriation is required.
- Design, construction, operation and maintenance of the NITC will be done by a private entity through a public-private partnership agreement.
- No tolls will be charged in Michigan for use of the bridge. Canada will charge tolls, which will be used to reimburse the Canadian government for the funds it advances related to the NITC and for its annual payments to the concessionaire.
- The Canadian government will pay all costs of the required land acquisition in Canada and Michigan. It also will pay to construct an interchange to connect the NITC to I-75.
Construction for the new crossing is expected to begin in 2014 after land is acquired and details of the public/private partnership are worked out. Estimated completion is in 2018.
Interested members of the public are invited to submit written comments regarding the bridge plan until August 9, 2012 via e-mail at NITCComments@state.gov. The permit application can be viewed online at http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rt/permit/.