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Ambassador Bridge Michigan and Canadian officials continue to work to approve construction of new bridge to connect Detroit, Mich. and Windsor, Canada.
Michigan and Canadian officials continue to work to approve construction of new bridge to connect Detroit, Mich. and Windsor, Canada.
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Published: 6/13/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Approval close on new Detroit bridge to Canada

OK by Michigan governor reported

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

DETROIT – Michigan and Canadian officials have moved closer to making a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada, a reality, after reports that an agreement has been reached to build the crossing.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder could make an announcement as early as Friday regarding the long-anticipated new bridge over the Detroit River into the city of Windsor.

The Globe and Mail, a leading Canadian newspaper in Toronto, reported that the country had reached an accord with Governor Snyder to build the second bridge, dubbed by Mr. Snyder the New International Trade Crossing and also known as the Detroit River International Crossing.

The deal becomes official only after Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet approves the agreement, a move that is expected today.

Sara Wurfel, a spokesman for Mr. Snyder, said the bridge has been a priority but stopped short of giving a date for an announcement.

"It is something we are actively working on," Ms. Wurfel said Tuesday. " … As soon as we have news to share, we absolutely will. This project is a tremendous priority of the governor because of what it means for jobs, international trade and exports, and for roads and bridges across Michigan — all without costing our state's taxpayers a dime."

The proposed bridge would be an alternative to the traffic-choked 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge, the busiest border crossing in North America.

About $500 million worth of trade passes daily across the bridge. Plans for the new bridge have been opposed by Michigan billionaire Manuel Moroun, who owns the private Ambassador Bridge.

The company behind the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit International Bridge Co., is gathering signatures to put a referendum question on the November election ballot. It would ask Michigan voters if they want to amend their constitution so that a statewide ballot is required before a new bridge goes ahead.

The Ambassador Bridge owners, Mr. Moroun and his son Matthew, also have used television ads to raise questions in Michigan voters' minds about the rationale for a government-backed second crossing, stating that voters deserve to say whether the state should commit resources to a new bridge project.

Kim Hill, associate director of research for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said this year that a new bridge between Detroit and Canada would be a spark for the Michigan economy with the construction and permanent jobs it would create. Mr. Hill would not say how many jobs could be created according to his research, and his report did not address the impact on Toledo or Ohio.

Roy Norton, consul general of Canada in Detroit whose region includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky, has urged transportation interests throughout the region to support a new river crossing. Last year, he also said that building a second Detroit River crossing is Canada's top national infrastructure priority because of the corridor's importance to U.S.-Canada trade.

Mr. Norton said 8 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada. Because one-quarter of all U.S. trade with Canada crosses the Ambassador Bridge, he extrapolated that 2 million U.S. jobs depend on the Ambassador Bridge.

A new river crossing could cost about $1 billion, and be privately financed by the contractor that wins the bid to construct it, but the toll booth plazas and roads on the Detroit and Canadian sides of the bridge would add $2 billion to the total cost of the project.

The Canadian government has offered to pay Michigan $550 million — its share of the project — up front and then recoup the money from Michigan's share of the bridge tolls.

Staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.



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