New International Trade Crossing Moving Towards Agreement

A deal to begin construction on the proposed New International Trade Crossing is close at hand. The governments of Michigan and Canada are working out the final issues associated with constructing the new bridge and it appears that an announcement will be made in the next week. The governments are using a little known accord, known as an interlocal agreement, to facilitate the project and bypass the Michigan legislature.

Previous attempts to garner support for the project have floundered in Michigan due to a massive advertising campaign financed by the owners of the existing Ambassador Bridge. Under an interlocal agreement, the governor of Michigan does not require legislative approval for the infrastructure expenditure.

Reportedly, the only condition that still must be resolved prior to ratifying the deal is a clause that would restrict the procurement of steel to the US. American officials have suggested that this deal could trigger a federal government requirement for the steel to be purchased locally. However, the Canadian government is insisting that the procurement of steel be undertaken through an international competition, which would likely result in Chinese steel being used in construction.

The $1.1 billion bridge will be constructed using a public-private partnership, probably in the form of a design-build-finance-maintain contract. The $1.4 billion Windsor-Essex parkway, which will connect highway 401 with the new bridge, is already well under construction and is also being constructed through a P3 contract. Additionally, the Government of Canada will also spend approximately $300 million to construct traffic plazas and supporting border infrastructure leading up to the new crossing.

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