US Bridge Plaza Deal Officially Announced

Canada has agreed to pay via public-private partnership (P3) the cost to build a U.S. Customs plaza adjacent to the planned Detroit-Windsor bridge, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced in the House of Commons this week.

Uncertainty about financing the U.S. plaza was considered the last major roadblock for the full bridge-plaza construction project to move forward.

Under the terms of the arrangement with the U.S. and the state of Michigan, “the U.S. inspection plaza will be procured as part of the public-private partnership which will design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC)/New International Trade Crossing (NITC) project,” according to a statement from Raitt.

“The cost of the U.S. Port of Entry will be repaid from future toll revenues and not by Canadian taxpayers.”

Under the P3 agreement in Canada, a company would reportedly bid on the construction job and recoup the cost via the bridge’s toll revenue. After all expenses and bills have been satisfied, a public bridge authority will begin collecting toll revenue.

The bridge project is expected to be finished and open by 2020.

The Globe & Mail reported earlier this month that an agreement on the plaza was imminent. At that time, Ontario Trucking Association president David Bradley lauded the news:

“It’s been a long time coming … (and) 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.”

The new six-lane bridge will connect I-75 and Highway 401 between Detroit’s industrial Delray neighborhood – north of Zug Island and Windsor’s Brighton Beach area.

Despite Canada agreeing to pick up the $3.4 billion tab to build the bridge on both sides of the border, Washington balked at paying for Michigan’s  customs plaza.

According to the Detroit News, Washington has, however, promised $100 million to covering equipping and staffing the plaza with federal border and customs personnel when it opens, and then $50 million annually afterward.

“This arrangement is good for Canada and for Canadians. It ensures that all the elements of the project will ultimately be delivered through a public-private partnership. It also allows Canada and Michigan to move the project forward immediately to its next steps which include further design work and property acquisition on the U.S. side of the border,” Raitt said. “We were not going to let financial consideration get in the way of construction of this bridge.”

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