Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

March 10, 2014

Plans moving forward for new Detroit-Canada bridge

Eds: Adds photo links. With AP Photos.

DETROIT (AP) — The omission in the federal budget for funding specifically for a border inspection plaza in Michigan is not expected to delay efforts to build a commuter bridge connecting Detroit with Canada, state officials say.

Land acquisition for the New International Trade Crossing could start this summer on the U.S. side of the Detroit River, with bridge construction scheduled to begin in 2016. The project would be completed in 2020.

The span would compete for the lucrative cross-border toll revenues in Detroit and Windsor, Ont., mainly being captured by the privately owned Ambassador Bridge.

"This infrastructure project is of utmost economic significance to both Michigan and the entire U.S. and our largest trading partner, Canada," said Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, who supports the project.

Still up in the air, however, is how work on the Detroit customs plaza will be funded.

President Barack Obama's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget includes $486 million for Customs and Border Protection construction and facilities management nationwide. But none of that money is directly pointed toward the Detroit plaza, which will cost about $250 million.

"The plaza is still down the road — not the first or next thing that does need to be done or built," Wurfel said.

The 84-year-old Ambassador Bridge is an integral part of the $70 billion-a-year trade relationship enjoyed by Michigan and Canada. The Ambassador Bridge's annual gross revenue is about $60 million, a spokesman for owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun said in 2012.

The new government bridge project also is critical to the state's economy in terms of jobs and exports, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters said last week.

"The Obama Administration needs to work with Congress and leaders in Michigan and Canada to move this project forward," Peters said in a statement. "The decision to not prioritize this project in the budget was a grave oversight."

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