February 23, 2015 – Let’s take a week off from all of the talk of no additional funding and the merits of Prop 1 and talk about a project that continues to inch forward – the New International Trade Crossing. Interestingly, the project continues to move forward only because the Canadian government continues to fund the project. The Canadian government has agreed to pay the $250 million cost for the inspection plaza in Detroit under a deal agreed to by both countries.
The Canadians had hoped the U.S. would pay for construction of its own customs plaza, but that will not happen under the newly signed agreement. Canada, along with a private-sector partner soon to be selected by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, will now be paying the project’s full construction costs.
Taxpayers will not be on the hook for any of the costs. Under the agreement, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has agreed to cover all U.S. customs staffing costs for the new bridge, but the cost of the plaza construction will be recouped in the years ahead through tolls and other sources such as duty-free goods and gas.
The project’s next steps include ramping up property acquisition in Detroit to make room for the new bridge plaza and a feeder road in Delray that will link to the I-75 freeway. A new border highway in Windsor to link with the bridge is expected to be fully open to traffic by the end of this year.
Isn’t it ironic that one of the most important projects in our state and our region is moving forward with little or no funding from Michigan or the U.S.? It is amazing what can get done when you have a vision, a plan, and requisite funding to implement a plan. We can all learn something from the Canadian approach to this project.
Image: State of Michigan Presidential Permit Application (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/194997.pdf)
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