The U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit on Friday April 12 to begin construction of the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), a bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder applied for the permit on June 21, 2012, days after Snyder signed the historic NITC crossing agreement with Canadian officials. Effectiveness of the agreement was subject to approval by the U.S. State Department. The department conducted an extended public comment period before approving the permit, which now makes the Michigan-Canada agreement operative. While other steps remain before NITC construction begins, they hinged on Michigan's ability to secure a presidential permit.
"This is all about jobs for today and tomorrow," Snyder said. "This is a major construction project that is expected to create 12,000 direct jobs and as many as 31,000 indirect jobs. Getting Michigan-made products to more markets faster will enhance our economic competitiveness in the future and help our state create more jobs.
"This project is important for the future of Michigan, the United States and Canada. I appreciate the U.S. State Department's thorough review as well as the continued support of our Canadian partners. This new trade crossing will make Michigan stronger in many ways."
The State Department determined that the NITC will "serve the national interest" for several reasons, including its job-creation benefits, advancement of America's foreign policy interests, promotion of cross-border trade and commerce and added capacity to accommodate expected border traffic growth.
“The New International Trade Crossing will be much more than just a bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ont.—as those who have worked so hard to move this project forward know, it will be an economic engine for the entire region,” said U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. “That's why I'm so pleased that the State Department today issued a presidential permit that clears the way for the project to begin, which is great news for the state of Michigan, the United States and Canada. I want to particularly congratulate Gov. Snyder for his tireless leadership on this critical project, which will create thousands of jobs, relieve crippling congestion that slows the flow of travelers and goods between our countries and make our North American auto manufacturing industry more competitive in the global market. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners in Michigan and Canada as this key project gets under way.”
The NITC will be built at no cost to Michigan taxpayers and will provide a modern, strategically located bridge between Detroit and Windsor. It is supported by a broad coalition that includes business and labor. The project is vital to enhancing the $70 billion-a-year trade relationship between Michigan and Canada. It will generate thousands of short- and long-term jobs on both sides of the border, open trade markets, strengthen economic security and ease traffic congestion.
"Michigan is moving forward and the future is bright," Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said. "We're positioning the Detroit community and our entire state to thrive in the global economy. The NITC will open doors for entrepreneurs, farmers and manufacturers in every corner of our state. There's still much work to be done, but approval of the presidential permit is a significant step along Michigan's path to prosperity. We look forward to working with the Delray community as this project progresses."
With the presidential permit in hand, next steps include naming members to the International Authority, planning for the relocation of utilities, initiating the process for land acquisition and applying for a U.S. Coast Guard permit. The entire project will take about seven years and includes the building of interchange ramps and an inspection plaza. Construction of the actual bridge span is expected to begin in about two years.
The Federal Highway Administration granted Michigan's request for a Buy America waiver in December 2012, allowing for the use of American and Canadian steel in the bridge.
The NITC will be a public bridge operated by a private concessionaire.
The Michigan-Canada 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 comprise three members appointed by Canada and three members appointed by Michigan.
Construction cost of the bridge itself—not including other project components such as land acquisition and the I-75 interchange construction, which Canada will pay for directly—is estimated at $950 million. The cost will be paid by a private concessionaire and will be repaid by Canada through tolls.