New 'NITC' Detroit-Windsor toll bridge gets US presidential permit

April 12, 2013
By Peter Samuel

2013-04-12: The US Department of State announced today that it has issued the US Presidential Permit that represents the last federal authorization needed for the proposed New International Trade Crossing (NITC) toll bridge that the Canadian Government plans to have built 1.8 miles downriver of the Ambassador Bridge. The six lane cable stayed or suspension bridge (previously known as DRIC bridge) would be the fourth highway crossing for Michigan-Ontario traffic, others being the Blue Water Bridge and Detroit Windsor Tunnel.

The Statement Department 'media note' released today reads:

"Today the Department of State issued a Presidential Permit to the State of Michigan for the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of a bridge linking Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario.

"Under Executive Order 11423, as amended, the Secretary of State may issue a Presidential permit for an international border crossing after finding that such a crossing will serve the national interest. After a thorough review of the Presidential Permit application for the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) that the Department of State received on June 21, 2012, and taking into account the public and inter-agency comments received on the matter, the Department of State determined that the issuance of a Presidential Permit for the NITC would serve the national interest. The Presidential Permit will be published in the Federal Register in the near future.

"Consistent with the bilateral Beyond the Border Initiative, this permit contributes to ensuring that our border infrastructure supports increased competitiveness, job creation, and broad-based prosperity in the United States and Canada. The NITC will help to meet future capacity requirements in a critical travel corridor, promote cross-border trade and commerce, and advance our vital bilateral relationship with Canada." (end DoS statement 2013-04-12)

The application says that the bridge "will be constructed, operated and maintained by the Crossing Authority, a Canadian corporation that will be established in the future, through a Concessionaire under a Public-Private Partnership (P-3) Agreement." Formal ownership of the bridge on the US side of the river border will be by the state of MIchigan but the Canadian Government's Crossing Authority will pay for the bridge plus connections inspection plaza facilities and the interchange with I-75 in Detroit as well as facilities on the Canadian side.

Tolls will be collected by the Canadians on the Canadian side of the river.

The NITC is designed to provide expressway style connections between the US interstate highways in Detroit and the Highway 401 that proceeds east to Toronto,  Quebec and the Maritime provinces.

Main span of the bridge is planned to be 2,820 ft, 860m, either cable stayed or suspension. It will have two 46ft, 14m roadways, striped initially for 2x3 lanes plus shoulders rightside.  There will be a median barrier and sidewalks for a total deck width of 107ft, 32.5m. With Canadians running the construction it will be built metric.

Both main piers will be on the riverbanks.

Environmental clearances have been obtained on both sides of the river.

Major uncertainties still are:

- the legal standing of the agreement signed between Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the Canadians without any specific authorizing legislation. The state legislature has consistently declined to endorse the project and indeed has barred any spending of state funds on the it.

- whether the Canadian parliament will appropriate several billion dollars needed for a bridge expected to cost far more than prospective toll revenues

- whether the US Customs and Border Protection agency will have the funds to properly staff an extra crossing at a time it already has difficulty staffing existing crossings

- foundation quality

As the permit application states traffic at the Detroit Windsor crossings was 10.84m (30,000/day) in 2010 down from the peak year of 1999 when traffic was 22.05m (61,000/day). Blue Water bridge north of Detroit has seen similar decline.

Nevertheless the NITC study team forecasts 2035 traffic at 26.8m (73.000/day.)

Cost of the project is put at $3.8 billion comprising:

- Canadian Windsor Essex Parkway to connect to H401 $1,670m

- Canadian plaza $388m

- the Bridge $949m

- US plaza $414

- I-75 interchange $386m

The project is expected to take seven years to build, so should open in 2020 or 2021 - if all goes well.

TOLLROADSnews 2013-04-12

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