The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gov. Snyder, Canada agree on funding for new bridge

By The Building Tradesman



Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced June 15 an agreement that lays the groundwork for the New International Trade Crossing, a move that Snyder said “positions Michigan to thrive in the global economy” while protecting the state from shouldering the project’s costs.

Thousands of construction jobs are expected to be created when the bridge gets built, a process which could take years to start because of anticipated legal challenges.

The NITC will provide a modern bridge between Detroit and Windsor that is vital to enhancing the $70 billion-a-year trade relationship between Michigan and Canada. To be located about two miles down river from the Ambassador Bridge, it will generate thousands of short- and long-term jobs on both sides of the border, strengthen Michigan as a trade conduit, strengthen economic security and ease traffic congestion.

“This agreement is about more than building a bridge,” Snyder said. “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.”

Said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “We shall launch a truly visionary project one that will launch jobs and growth in both the United States and Canada.”

The agreement allows for the creation of an International Authority to oversee the letting of bids to privately design, develop, finance, construct and operate the NITC. The Authority will be comprised of three members appointed by Canada and three members appointed by Michigan.

Also under the agreement:

  • Michigan is not obligated to pay any of the NITC’s costs and no state appropriation is required. The government of Canada is picking up Michigan’s cost, and will be reimbursed through toll revenues.
  • Canada’s expenditure of $550 million will be eligible as U.S. federal matching funds for use on highway projects across Michigan.
  • Actual design, construction, operation and maintenance of the NITC will be done by a private entity through a 40-50 year public-private partnership agreement between the Crossing Authority and the private entity as concessionaire.
  • No tolls will be charged in Michigan for use of the bridge. Canada will charge tolls, which will be used to reimburse the Canadian government for the funds it advances related to the NITC and for its annual availability payments to the concessionaire.
  • Construction cost of the bridge itself is estimated at $950 million. The Canadian government will pay all costs of the required land acquisition in Canada and Michigan. It also will pay to construct an interchange to connect the NITC to I-75.

The project earned the support of a broad international coalition including the agriculture industry, auto companies and suppliers, labor unions, manufacturers, municipal and transportation leaders, chambers of commerce, all of Michigan’s living former governors, the mining industry and utility companies.

The Detroit-Windsor trade corridor is critical to both sides of the border. The existing bridge is the busiest trade crossing on the U.S. – Canada border. About 237,000 Michigan jobs depend on Michigan-Canada trade.

Other benefits of the NITC include:

  • The creation of 10,000 jobs related to the NITC project.
  • A new direct connection between I-75 in Michigan and Highway 401 in Canada that eases traffic congestion at the border and allows trucks to bypass residential communities. The existing bridge at the Detroit-Windsor crossing is the No. 1 traffic bottleneck in the entire Pan-American Freeway system.
  • Reducing costs to job providers, particularly the auto industry. Estimates show that border regulations and delays now add significant costs to vehicle production.
  • Minimizing the likelihood of an economic disaster for Michigan or Windsor should one of the other border crossings sustain a lengthy shutdown.

A lawsuit protesting the new international bridge is almost certain to come from billionaire Matty Maroun who owns the Ambassador Bridge. Maroun has also sponsored a petition drive to “let voters decide” whether the state should be involved in construction of the bridge.

“We’re thrilled that the NITC is moving forward,” said Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Devlin, who was on hand at the international bridge signing on June 15. “We wish we could start tomorrow. But now at least we have a path forward to creating thousands of building trades jobs.”

  • Michigan is not obligated to pay any of the NITC’s costs and no state appropriation is required. The government of Canada is picking up Michigan’s cost, and will be reimbursed through toll revenues.
  • Canada’s expenditure of $550 million will be eligible as U.S. federal matching funds for use on highway projects across Michigan.
  • Actual design, construction, operation and maintenance of the NITC will be done by a private entity through a 40-50 year public-private partnership agreement between the Crossing Authority and the private entity as concessionaire.
  • No tolls will be charged in Michigan for use of the bridge. Canada will charge tolls, which will be used to reimburse the Canadian government for the funds it advances related to the NITC and for its annual availability payments to the concessionaire.
  • Construction cost of the bridge itself is estimated at $950 million. The Canadian government will pay all costs of the required land acquisition in Canada and Michigan. It also will pay to construct an interchange to connect the NITC to I-75.
The project earned the support of a broad international coalition including the agriculture industry, auto companies and suppliers, labor unions, manufacturers, municipal and transportation leaders, chambers of commerce, all of Michigan’s living former governors, the mining industry and utility companies. The Detroit-Windsor trade corridor is critical to both sides of the border. The existing bridge is the busiest trade crossing on the U.S. - Canada border. About 237,000 Michigan jobs depend on Michigan-Canada trade. Other benefits of the NITC include:
  • The creation of 10,000 jobs related to the NITC project.
  • A new direct connection between I-75 in Michigan and Highway 401 in Canada that eases traffic congestion at the border and allows trucks to bypass residential communities. The existing bridge at the Detroit-Windsor crossing is the No. 1 traffic bottleneck in the entire Pan-American Freeway system.
  • Reducing costs to job providers, particularly the auto industry. Estimates show that border regulations and delays now add significant costs to vehicle production.
  • Minimizing the likelihood of an economic disaster for Michigan or Windsor should one of the other border crossings sustain a lengthy shutdown.
A lawsuit protesting the new international bridge is almost certain to come from billionaire Matty Maroun who owns the Ambassador Bridge. Maroun has also sponsored a petition drive to “let voters decide” whether the state should be involved in construction of the bridge. “We’re thrilled that the NITC is moving forward,” said Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Devlin, who was on hand at the international bridge signing on June 15. “We wish we could start tomorrow. But now at least we have a path forward to creating thousands of building trades jobs.”