At a press conference in Windsor, Ont. today, Gov. Rick Snyder joined Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper to announce the New International Trade Crossing Agreement. This agreement, according to the Governor’s Office, will bolster trade, simplify travel and provide as many as 10,000 temporary and permanent jobs by allowing the construction of a new bridge over the Detroit River connecting the cities of Detroit and Ontario.
In his statement, Gov. Snyder said:
“This agreement is about more than building a bridge; it’s about building a future of economic strength and security for families across our entire state. The NITC will help Michigan farmers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers get their goods to market faster, as well as develop new customer bases. It also prepares southeastern Michigan to become a global transportation hub when coupled with the region’s other assets. Equally important, this agreement is a great illustration of the power of partnerships. This collaborative achievement by the state, our Canadian friends, the U.S. government, Michigan’s congressional delegation and the broad coalition of supporters shows the world that we’re moving forward with innovation, vision and relentless positive action. Today represents a major step in Michigan’s reinvention.”
The Ambassador Bridge’s owner, Manuel “Matty” Moroun, has protested the finalization of today's agreement, for siphoning off traffic from his bridge two miles upriver, but the Governor’s Office insists on the necessity of a new bridge. Last week, during a Detroit city council presentation about the NITC, Lt. Governor Brian Calley called the Detroit-Windsor border crossing the “worst bottleneck in the entire Pan American freeway system.”
According to the NITC's proposal, the bridge will be built over the course of four to five years, located south of the existing Ambassador Bridge, just north of Zug Island in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood. The project includes the construction of access ramps off of I-75 and a processing station for international travel.
Though the site has been finalized, the bridge’s future design, development, financing, construction and operation have yet to be awarded to a private bidder, selected by a new International Authority comprised of Michiganders and Canadians.
Earlier this week, House Republicans took action preventing Michigan tax dollars from being spent on the estimated $3.8 billion international bridge price tag. According to the agreement, Michigan will not be obligated to fund any of the NITC’s costs. Because of this, drivers accessing the bridge from the Michigan side will not pay tolls as they cross, though vehicles driving from Canada to Michigan will be tolled in an effort to defray the country’s expenditures.
-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom