Report: Canada-US Reach Agreement on New Detroit Bridge Plaza

Vehicle tolls will be used to pay for a $250-million U.S. Customs plaza needed for a planned new binational New International Trade Crossing under a tentative deal worked out between Ottawa, Washington and the state of Michigan, reports the Globe& Mail and other media.

Final details are still being worked out, with a formal announcement expected to be made next month, a government source told G&M.

“The deal has been worked out,” the source said.

The customs plaza on the U.S. side of the crossing was considered the last major hurdle before work on the $2.1 billion New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor is able to move forward.

“It’s been a long time coming, and we await the finer details, but on the surface this is excellent news,” said Ontario Trucking Association president David Bradley, who commended the efforts of governments, stakeholders and business groups on both sides of the border in getting a  deal done. “We are hopeful the political wrangling that has delayed progress on this most important infrastructure investment is finally over and we can soon begin the work of putting shovels in the ground. This is an encouraging development for anyone who is eagerly looking forward to improved trade flows and better efficiency across the single busiest trade gateway for North America.”

Despite Canada agreeing to pick up the $3.4 billion tab to build the bridge on both sides of the border, Washington continues balked at paying for its own customs plaza on the Michigan side of the bridge. And the president’s $4-trillion (U.S.) budget on Monday failed to include any money for the plaza for a second consecutive year.

The source suggested that Washington’s refusal to change its position forced stakeholders to accept tapping toll revenues to finance the customs plaza.

It remains unclear whether Ottawa will also now put up the $250-million for the plaza and pay itself back through a toll funding formula, or whether private-sector partners will front the money.

The project, which spans the busiest trade crossing between the two countries, is slated to be completed in 2020.

Earlier today, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson confirmed to the Detroit News that a deal is imminent.

“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. We’re getting there.”

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