NITC bridge clears last financial hurdle
Canada will fund the U.S. customs plaza in Detroit.
Thanks to a public-private partnership, come 2020, traffic traveling between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, will have the option of using the New International Bridge Crossing.
Canada’s Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt announced last week an agreement has been reached to fund the U.S. customs plaza, the last financial hurdle in the plan for the $2.1 billion bridge.
“I am pleased to confirm that, following significant discussions with the United States and Michigan, Canada has now signed an arrangement to ensure that the new publicly owned bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, can proceed without further delay,” Raitt said in a statement.
“Under the terms of the arrangement, the U.S. inspection plaza will be procured as part of the public- private partnership which will design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the Detroit River International Crossing/New International Trade Crossing project. The cost of the U.S. Port of Entry will be repaid from future toll revenues and not by Canadian taxpayers.”
Estimates have put the cost of the U.S. customs plaza at approximately $250 million.
As part of the agreement, the United States agreed to pay the staff, and operate and maintain the customs plaza in Detroit.
The United States estimates first-year operations and staffing will require an approximately $100 million investment with an ongoing annual requirement of $50 million in annual staffing costs.
Canada previously agreed to finance the brunt of the project, which includes the construction of the Canadian customs plaza and the Windsor Essex Parkway connecting the crossing to Highway 401 in Ontario, as well as investing $550 million on the Michigan side of the bridge, which Canada would recoup through tolls and fees.
The expectation had been that the U.S. federal government would earmark the funds needed for construction of the U.S. customs plaza; however, budget after budget has not included a line item for the bridge.
The federal government has been supportive of the project, however, granting numerous approvals and an issuance of a presidential permit for construction.
Gov. Rick Snyder praised the agreement and promised to continue to work toward ensuring the U.S. customs plaza receives the resources it needs to operate efficiently.
“I’m appreciative of the work of our partners in Congress and in the Canadian government to ensure that the New International Trade Crossing — important to both of our countries — continues to move forward,” he said. “I will continue to encourage the U.S. government to provide the necessary resources to fund U.S. customs facilities at the NITC project and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.”
The Blue Water Bridge spans the St. Clair River and carries international traffic between Port Huron, Mich., and Point Edward and Sarnia, Ontario.
Raitt said the agreement allows the bridge project to move forward immediately, with next steps including further design work and property acquisition on the U.S. side of the border.
The bridge is expected to be completed and operating by 2020.
Canada has said it considers the NITC a “top infrastructure priority.”
“The new DRIC/NITC bridge is of vital importance to the economic prosperity of communities and businesses on both sides of the border,” Raitt said. “It will facilitate the movement of people, goods and services by ensuring there is sufficient border-crossing capacity to handle projected growth in cross-border trade and traffic in the Windsor-Detroit trade corridor.
“As well, it will provide a much-needed crossing alternative at one of the busiest commercial border crossings in North America and support national security and public safety priorities in Canada and the U.S. It will also bring new jobs, opportunities and continued prosperity to communities in both countries.”
U.S. Senator Gary Peters, a long-time supporter and advocate of the project, emphasized the importance of the NITC to Michigan.
“The NITC will create thousands of Michigan jobs, enhance trade with Canada, our closest trading partner, and help transform Michigan into a transportation and logistics hub for trade, manufacturing and innovation,” he said.
“I will continue working with the Obama administration, the Snyder administration, the Canadian government and my colleagues in Congress to ensure the U.S. fulfills our commitment to fully staff and operate this new border crossing that will have a significant economic impact for Michigan and states across the country."
Canada is the largest trading partner of both the United States and the state of Michigan, and many U.S. and Michigan jobs depend on the vitality of U.S.-Canada trade. The Detroit-Windsor Corridor is the largest commercial crossing along the U.S. border with Canada. In 2014, annual trade in goods alone through all Ports of Entry between Canada and the U.S. was approximately $658 billion, and over one-quarter of those trade flows relied on the Detroit-Windsor corridor.