The U.S. State Department recently issued a presidential permit to the state of Michigan to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
The State Department approves new international border crossings after reviewing whether they are in the national interest.
Local and national officials in Canada and the United States for many years have been developing plans for a second bridge to relieve congestion on the privately-held Ambassador Bridge, the busiest commercial border crossing between the two neighbors with more than 8,000 trucks per day. The four-lane Ambassador Bridge dumps into downtown Windsor, forcing traffic to wind through crowded streets before reaching the highway. Officials also want another outlet to support expected growth in trade and to add redundancy in the event of a traffic shutdown.
The $950-million bridge is expected to help increase bilateral trade, especially since many manufacturers are located on both sides of the border and regularly ship components and finished goods back and forth.
The crossing is one of Canada's top infrastructure priorities. In addition to the new six-lane bridge, the project includes modern inspection plazas and an interchange with Interstate-75 in Michigan.
With the signing of the Detroit-Windsor Bridge Presidential Permit
, the project can now advance to acquisition of properties in the United States, relocation of utilities, land clearing and more detailed design in preparation for selection of a private partner to design, finance, build, operate and maintain the tolled crossing.
Last June, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed that Canada would be responsible for constructing, financing and operating the new crossing. The Canadian government will even pay for land acquisition and the connection to I-75 in Michigan. Canada sees the new Detroit Bridge as a key component of its Continental Gateway trade corridor initiative to spur freight transportation to the United States similar to its infrastructure investment on key corridors from Pacific and Atlantic gateways. - Eric Kulisch