Canada, U.S. name panel to oversee new $1B Detroit-Windsor bridge

Canada's Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are in Windsor, Ont., today and expected to announce the formation of a U.S.-Canadian panel to oversee plans for a new bridge between Detroit and the southwestern Ontario city.

$1B bridge linking west Windsor and west Detroit has been agreed upon and is in the works

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority will be the manager of all parts of the project in Canada and the U.S. once it’s built. The WDBA will also set and collect tolls. (Dale Molnar/CBC News)

Canada and the U.S. have named the members of the international authority that will oversee the construction of the new publicly owned $1-billion bridge connecting Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.

Kristine Burr, Genevieve Gagnon and a person to be named at a later date have been appointed by Canada.

Americans Michael D. Hayes, Birgit M. Klohs and Matt Rizik have been appointed by the U.S.

Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement in Windsor on Wednesday.

The group of six will oversee and approve key steps in the procurement process for the new crossing. It will also monitor compliance of the Windsor-Detroit Authority with the crossing agreement, signed by Canada and Michigan in 2012.

Raitt also announced appointments to the board of the authority. They include:

  • Michele (Michael) Cautillo, president and CEO. Cautillo is a civil engineer who has worked as a transportation specialist and partner in Deloitte’s Ontario Infrastructure Advisory and Project Finance group.
  • Mark McQueen, chair of the board of directors.
  • William Graham and Caroline Mulroney Lapham, daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, as directors.

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority will be the manager of “all parts of the project” in Canada and the U.S. once it’s built, Raitt said.

The WDBA will also set and collect tolls. Canada has agreed to pay for construction of the bridge and will recoup its costs through tolls.

The bridge is expected to open in 2020.

The total cost of the project would be about $4 billion Cdn, including work on freeway interchanges, customs plazas in both countries and infrastructure work.

The final permit was issued last month after a U.S. court rejected a request for an injunction filed by the private company that owns the existing Ambassador Bridge.

“Let’s grab a shovel and get this bridge built,” Snyder said at the end of his speech Wednesday.

Raitt called the Windsor-Detroit corridor “crucial to the economic prosperity of both Canada and the U.S.”

She said 30 per cent of trade between Canada and the U.S. flowed through Windsor-Detroit last year, accounting for $20 billion in goods hauled by 2.4 million trucks.

Raitt said eight million U.S. jobs and two million Canadian positions depend on trade between the two countries.

“Our government is concerned about the reliability and vulnerability of this trade,” Raitt said.

The new bridge will have six lanes and border inspection on both sides of the Detroit River, Raitt said.

The Ambassador Bridge, privately owned by Matty Moroun, is 85 years old and has four lanes.

“We need to have efficient transport networks. Nowhere is more critical than where we are today,” Raitt said.

A new bridge linking Windsor, Ont., with the Delray community of west Detroit is in the works. (File Photo)

Land still needed

The next step involves securing funding for a U.S. customs facility, along with acquiring land on the American side.

A proposal to transfer 301 Detroit-owned properties to the Michigan Land Bank in exchange for $1.4 million from the Canadian government as part of plans for the crossing was delayed Monday.

A special Detroit city council session was scheduled Monday morning. However, the Detroit Free Press reports, that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's office has agreed to delay consideration of such an agreement until September.

The panel is expected to try to move the project forward, but the proposed crossing will still need $250 million in U.S. funding to build a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection plaza in Detroit.

Washington has yet to earmark funds for the plaza.

Snyder promised he would continue “strong and ongoing dialogue” with Washington.

Raitt, meanwhile, shrugged off questions about the plaza.

“Our government won’t let financing disagreements get in the way of construction timelines,” Raitt said.

With Files From The Canadian Press


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