On January 14, the United States government issued a long-awaited decision approving a new Detroit, MI-Windsor, Ontario, Canada border crossing system over the Detroit River. The Record of Decision, issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is the final environmental clearance for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) Study for a proposed new border crossing system just north of Zug Island.
The Record of Decision is the last step under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to gain project approval, following four years of consultations, public hearings, traffic analyses, and environmental studies. The Record of Decision allows Michigan to begin right-of-way acquisition and construction planning for the proposed new bridge. However, many hurdles remain. The DRIC project must get further approvals from governments on both sides of the border and it must overcome resistance to the project.
The DRIC Study, a binational effort, was led by the Border Transportation Partnership, comprised of the FHWA, Transport Canada, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. The Border Transportation Partnership was formed in 2000 to provide for the safe, efficient and secure movement of people and goods across the United States-Canada border at the Detroit River to support the regional, state, provincial, and national economies, and meet the civil and national defense and homeland security needs of the busiest trade corridor between the United States and Canada.
Construction of a new border inspection plaza, bridge and interchange is scheduled to begin in 2010, with an official opening of the new crossing system planned for 2013. If completed, the project — including a plaza where tolls and United States border inspection activities will occur, and an interchange connecting it to Interstate 75 — would span nearly 7 miles.
Activity on the Michigan side of the border will create 10,000 construction jobs and more than 30,000 indirect jobs during the construction period.
The new border crossing system will cost $1.8 billion for the U.S. portion of the bridge, the plaza and the new interchange with Interstate 75. This cost will be covered by a number of sources. The bridge itself will be paid for by the private sector in partnership with state and federal governments. While the private participant will use tolls to build, operate and maintain the new bridge, the Border Transportation Partnership will provide public oversight and ensure the accountability of any private sector participation to ensure a safe and secure international border crossing system.
"The new border crossing system empowers Michigan's economic recovery and revitalization as evidenced by the broad business community support for the project," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "In addition to fueling our economic engine and creating jobs, an expanded Detroit-Windsor border crossing system will benefit every traveler who relies on safe, efficient border crossings."
"This is a significant milestone," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Once built, the new crossing system will boost United States and Canadian trade by expanding the busiest trade corridor in the western hemisphere. This project is needed to transition the border crossing into a modern, multimodal network to securely move people and goods between the United States and Canada and make Southeast Michigan an even more prominent gateway for global commerce. We will be building the most modern border crossing system in the world."
"This great news could not come at a better time. Construction of this new crossing will be a huge stimulus to our sagging economy. The green light has been turnedon. Let's get going," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
"This is great news. We not only supported this initiative, but we stand ready to work closely with the Michigan Department of Transportation and Canadian government officials to build the economic future for our region," said Richard Blouse Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "We believe an additional crossing between the United States and Canada will enhance our regional positioning as a logistics hub and assist in our strategy to create new jobs and entrepreneurial opportunity."
"This is the busiest trade corridor in the United States," said Mike Johnston, vice president of governmental affairs, Michigan Manufacturers Association. "This expansion is vital to existing Michigan manufacturers and will be significant for Michigan's economic vitality."
"Ford Motor Company is encouraged by the federal government's decision to approve a new crossing," said Pamela Stec, director of North American Materials Planning and Logistics, Ford Motor Company. "The new crossing should relieve the periodic congestion we experience at the current Detroit-Windsor gateway and enable a timely and uninterrupted flow of materials and vehicles across the United States-Canadian border, which will be good for Ford Motor Company, our suppliers, dealers, and customers."
More information about the DRIC, including the Record of Decision, is available on the Border Transportation Partnership website at www.partnershipborderstudy.com.