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Wednesday, 05 February 2014 13:17cat

Canada To Buy Land in US for NITC Bridge

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The current plan for the NITC Bridge project The current plan for the NITC Bridge project Detroit News

Canadian officials announced plans last week to buy land in the United States for the New International Trade Crossing Bridge and customs plaza that will link Detroit and Windsor. They will do so without a guarantee from the United States that the U.S. will pay more than $200 million for a customs plaza. According to outgoing consul general Roy Norton, the project is too important to not move ahead despite doubts about U.S. participation. 

In the next few months, Canadian officials will begin purchasing roughly 1,000 lots in Detroit’s Delray District. This news does not come as a surprise to the Delray District, but local officials are trying to reach an agreement with the U.S. and Canada to benefit those residents who are left behind once the land has been purchased. They are hoping for job retraining programs that would allow some people to take jobs working on the bridge or customs plaza. Officials hope that the 1,000 parcels of land will be purchased by the end of 2015, but they expect deals where owners try to hold out to go into 2016. This will not delay the expected 2020 opening of the bridge.

The New International Trade Crossing project began in 2004 and was approved in 2007 and 2008. The whole project is expected to cost between $1 billion and $2.2 billion. The customs plaza will cost between $200 million and $350 million.  The bridge will link I-75 and I-94 in Michigan with the Windsor-Essex Parkway in Canada. No technical details about the bridge have been announced so far. Unlike the current privately owned and operated Ambassador bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, the publicly owned NITC Bridge would provide uninterrupted traffic flow onto Highway 401 in Ontario.  The Ambassador Bridge currently connects drivers to city streets on the Canadian side.  More than 25% of all merchandise trade between the U.S. and Canada crosses the Ambassador Bridge, making it the busiest international border crossing in North America by trade volume. The traffic crossing the U.S. and Canadian border is expected to increase by 8,000 cars per day from 18,500 to 26,500 cars per day in 2025. Under the current agreement with MDOT, Canada will receive a higher portion of the toll revenue from the bridge than the U.S. to repay their initial investment.

Legislative debates have caused many delays to the bridge, and as a result, some people are beginning to look into other ways to build the plaza. These options include building a smaller plaza to lower the cost, and having someone else build it and then have the U.S. government pay lease payments on the facility. The Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge, is continuing to pursue lawsuits to block the NITC project. They feel that the NITC Bridge will strongly affect the use of their bridge which will decreases their profits.  Michigan Governor Rick Snyder believes, however, that the U.S. officials are stalling on committing to pay for the bridge. Meanwhile, Canadian officials are refusing to back away from the project, and they feel that project is their most critical infrastructure priority. They are hoping that U.S. President Barack Obama will include money for the bridge in his new budget.

Source: Free Press

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