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Reports indicate Canada will pay for U.S. customs plaza as new bridge goes forward

Feb 4, 2015

It appears Canadian officials won't let a tight-fisted U.S. government stop progress on the New International Trade Crossing between Canada and the U.S.

Canada is footing most of the bill for building the crossing, including $550 million to help pay for access road construction on Michigan's side. 

Now it appears they'll be paying for our customs plaza as well.

More from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

“Our government will not let financing affect project timelines,” [spokeperson for Canada's Minister of Trasportation] Ms. Kelahear said.

Ottawa has long argued that the U.S. government should pay for its own infrastructure, given that Canada is already covering virtually the entire cost of the $2.1-billion bridge as well as access roads on both sides of the border.

The U.S. Congress and the Obama administration have refused to put forward any money despite pleading from some in Michigan's congressional delegation and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

To not pay, Governor Snyder said, would be "offensive."

From the Detroit News last October:

Snyder said he has been trying to convey to officials in President Barack Obama's administration that they're "offending the country of Canada" by not committing federal funds to the project.

"Wouldn't you be offended if Canada said that to us?" Snyder asked a crowd of 200 people who attended the forum at the American Polish Cultural Center.

Offensive or not, it appears an agreement whereby Canadian money will be used to build a U.S. Customs Plaza is close.

The Globe and Mail quotes a government source saying final details are being worked out. And the Detroit News confirmed the news with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and a U.S. Homeland Security official:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson, confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is in talks with the Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper about how to finance the Detroit toll plaza.

“I think we’re close to resolution on it,” Johnson said. Asked if the Canadian government would pay for the plaza upfront, Johnson said: “The Canadians, the community, I think we’re close.”

The Windsor Star reports "a source close to the project" says the money could come from a public-private partnership in Canada:

The source said that if a public-private partnership builds the bridge and custom plazas, the private companies would take their share first from vehicle tolls, and Canada would come next. The source said it would likely take 35 years or more before Canada could recoup its investment if it chipped in for a U.S. customs plaza.