New International Trade Crossing
|Location||Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor|
|Proposer||Michigan Department of Transportation and Ministry of Transportation of Ontario|
|Cost estimate||$1 B to $2.2 B|
|Supporters||Gov. Rick Snyder (Michigan), PM Stephen Harper (Canada), Ford Motors' executive chairman Bill Ford|
|Opponents||Manuel Moroun (Detroit International Bridge Company)|
The New International Trade Crossing (NITC), originally Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), is an international construction project and committee between Canada and the United States to create a new border crossing over the Detroit River. The crossing, as proposed, will connect Detroit and Windsor by linking Interstate 75 and Interstate 94 in Michigan with the new Windsor–Essex Parkway connection to Highway 401 in Ontario. This route will provide uninterrupted traffic flow, as opposed to the current configuration with the nearby Ambassador Bridge, which connects to city streets on the Canadian side.
The project began in 2004, and received approvals in 2007 and 2008 with Ontario beginning Windsor–Essex Parkway construction in 2011. The highway, renamed the Herb Gray Parkway in December 2012, was planned to be completed by 2015, but problems with several girders that were already installed forced a delay in the parkway's completion as the girders need to be replaced. The delay is not expected to affect the bridge project's timetable.
In 2011, the bridge was tentatively scheduled for completion in 2016, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. It was estimated that the bridge would generate $70.4 million in toll revenues in its first year of operation. The Michigan Senate's Economic Development Committee dealt the plan a setback by turning down a $550 million Canadian appropriation in October 2011, but an agreement announced June 15, 2012 ensured the project will proceed with the Canadian federal government funding bridge construction, land acquisition in Michigan and the construction of Interstate 75 on-ramps. The Canadian contribution will be repaid from bridge tolls collected on the Canadian side, and no tolls will be charged on the U.S. side.
On April 12, 2013, the US Department of State and the Obama Administration granted Michigan the permit required to build the bridge, allowing construction to go forward once details were finalized.
The Canadian government allocated $25 million to begin land acquisition on the Detroit side on May 22, 2013.
With traffic crossing the border anticipated to grow from 18,500 vehicles a day in 2016 to 26,500 by 2025, the New International Trade Crossing will provide an orderly flow of people and goods between the two countries. Transport Canada retained the engineering firms, Morrison Hershfield, Davis Langdon, and Delcan to develop cost estimates for right of way and utility relocation; design and construction; and operation and maintenance on the Canadian side of the crossing.
The bridge will connect to the new Windsor–Essex Parkway on its east side. The parkway will be below-grade and have six through-lanes. It will follow (but not replace) Talbot Road and Huron Church Road from a new interchange at the current end of Highway 401 to the E. C. Row Expressway, where it will run concurrently westward for 2 km (1.2 mi). From there, it will turn northwest and follow a new alignment to the border. Initial construction of a noise barrier from North Talbot Road to Howard Avenue began in March 2010. Two new bridges south of the current Highway 3/401 junction are also under construction. Full construction of the parkway began in 2011, with an originally-expected completion date of 2013.
The Michigan Senate has not approved any authorizing legislation related to NITC. The Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop has stated that the Senate will not vote until revenue forecasts are released, reports that are being withheld by the director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. The Michigan House of Representatives has already passed the measure while the bill is called "doomed" in the Senate.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder supported construction of the DRIC in his first State of the State address on January 19, 2011. His plan would leverage Canadian money to receive a 160 percent match—totaling $2.2 billion—on funding from the Federal Highway Administration in a deal reached the week previous to the speech. In August 2011, Michigan State Senator Mike Kowall, when asked by The Windsor Star if enabling legislation for the bridge would currently pass, replied "absolutely not."
In October 2011, "the Michigan Senate rejected a bill [which] would have allowed the state to accept $550 million from the Canadian government to fund the country’s share of the New International Trade Crossing." One commentator, Bill Mann, noted the rejection, saying "Canada calls the new bridge its biggest infrastructure priority and has even offered to pay for the span. But pesky U.S. special-interest politics intrude once again," as he reviewed a number of "U.S. government actions (and inactions) that show little concern about Canadian concerns". Mann drew from, and U.S. attention to, Macleans' article sub-titled "we used to be friends" about U.S.–Canada relations after the Keystone Pipeline, bridge and other "again" insulting decisions.
Ultimately, the bridge will be built without the support of the Michigan legislature as no Michigan state funds will be used.
In 2012, Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun spent more than $30 million promoting a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that, had it passed, would have required approval of both the voters of Detroit and the voters of Michigan in state-wide elections to build the bridge. US National Public Radio, in a November 2 story aired four days before the vote, indicated the amendment's "seemingly neutral language masks a very specific—and bitter—political battle". More than 60 percent of those of voted on the proposal rejected Moroun's Proposal 6, paving the way for the bridge to proceed.
The most vocal opposition to the NITC has been from billionaire Manuel "Matty" Moroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge. He has sued the governments of Canada and Michigan to stop its construction, and released a proposal to build a second span of the Ambassador Bridge (which he would own) instead. Critics suggest that Moroun's opposition is fueled by the prospect of lost profits from duty-free gasoline sales, which are exempt from about 60 cents per gallon in taxes even though the pump price to consumers is only a few cents lower.
In early June 2011, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity posted bogus eviction notices on homes in Detroit’s Delray district. With the words "Eviction Notice" in large type, the notices told homeowners their properties could be taken by the Michigan Department of Transportation to make way for the proposed new bridge. The group’s state director said the fake notices were intended to get residents to contact state lawmakers, to ask them to vote against the bridge project.
In July 2011, the Canadian Transit Company, the Canadian arm of the Ambassador Bridge, began running advertisements against the DRIC proposal, calling it a "$2.2 billion road to nowhere". The phone number listed for Canadian Transit Company forwarded to a phone number in Michigan, and the Canadian Transit Company previously held its 2011 annual meeting at the offices of the Detroit International Bridge Company. MPP Dwight Duncan advised that he was investigating whether or not the ads violated Ontario's election laws, which disallow public spending by foreign lobbyists.
The Ambassador Bridge's web site promoted the opposition, and the dual Moroun bridges (one proposed), with videos entitled "Know the Truth—Bridge Commercials": "A Bridge We Can't Afford"; "Wasteful Spending"; "$100 Million Dollar Gamble"; "Just Say NO!"; and "Misinformation".
In February 2011, various groups proposed naming the bridge in honor of Gordie Howe. Canadian politicians have proposed that it be named for the man known as "Mr. Hockey", a native Canadian who played for the Detroit Red Wings, including David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association. Snyder has "not [been] crazy" about the DRIC name. Such a name change is also proposed to help clear up confusion. The Ambassador Bridge is run by the Detroit International Bridge Company, which is abbreviated DIBC. The Howe name would also be fitting, backers say, because it would help bridge "Hockeytown" to Canada, where hockey is the winter national sport.
Sometime afterward, the working name for the project became the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), garnering the endorsement of 139 organizations and individuals. It was under the NITC name that the project was approved by the U.S. State Department on April 12, 2013.
- Detroit–Windsor Tunnel, a car-van-bus link between the two cities
- Blue Water Bridge, connecting Port Huron, Michigan, to Sarnia, Ontario, where traffic may also be affected and which was also featured in an anti-bridge ad which ran on Michigan TV.
- Dave Battagello (April 12, 2013). "New Detroit crossing seven years away". Windsor Star. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
- Dave Battagello (May 22, 2013). "Canada to start buying property in Delray for DRIC bridge". Windsor Star. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
- Mann, Bill (June 14, 2012). "Second Bridge at Detroit–Windsor? It's About Time". MarketWatch. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Office of the Spokesperson (April 12, 2013). "Issuance of Presidential Permit for New International Trade Crossing" (Press release). United States Department of State. 2013/0402. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- Detroit River International Crossing Study Team (May 1, 2008). "Parkway Map" (PDF). URS Corporation. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- Government of Canada (March 3, 2008). "Border Transportation Partnership Reaches Milestone". Transport Canada. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
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- Detroit River International Crossing Study Team (May 1, 2008). "Parkway Map" (PDF). URS Corporation. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
- Detroit River International Crossing Study Team (2010). "What's Next" (PDF). URS Corporation. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- Puzic, Sonja (May 7, 2011). "Parkway Work To Start in August, MPP Says". The Windsor Star. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
- Detroit River International Crossing Study Team (July 2009). "Initial Construction" (PDF). URS Corporation. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
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- Staff (April 21, 2011). "Supporting the New International Trade Crossing and Public Private Partnership Legislation" (PDF). Detroit Free Press. http://www.freep.com/assets/freep/pdf/C4173444422.PDF. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- Staff (June 30, 2012). "Detroit River Tunnel Operator Avoids Bridge Battle". The Washington Examiner. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
- Detroit River International Crossing Project
- Windsor–Essex Parkway official website
- Conceptual Engineering Report
- Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO): Ontario Border Improvements — Windsor
- MTO news and status updates regarding the DRIC and Windsor–Essex Parkway proposals
- New International Trade Crossing from the State of Michigan
- Morrison Hershfield - Detroit River International Crossing