Equipment

Plans for Two U.S.-Canadian Crossings Questioned

July 15, 2009

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Plans already under way to build two new international bridges between Detroit and Canada were challenged by a report sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber.
Citing significant decreases in hauling in this area related to the auto industry fallout, the report said investment in the bridges doesn't make sense.

"The slowdown in the auto industry has contributed to a 15 percent drop in the number of trucks crossing the Ambassador Bridge from 2007 to 2008, with an 18 percent drop in truck traffic across the Ambassador Bridge in December 2008 compared with the previous December," the report said.

The report, authored by the Brookings Institution, refers to the Detroit International Bridge Company's $1 billion second span for the Ambassador Bridge, and the new Detroit River International Crossing, which would connect Detroit and Windsor.

The Brookings Institution points to several concerns posed by the bridges' construction, including rerouted traffic that would cause delays. Construction of the $1.5 billion Detroit River International Crossing would start in 2010 and last until 2013, and the traffic impact is unknown.

The report also notes problems associated with coordination between multiple governments and getting over the hurdles to approving new border infrastructure, especially following 9/11. This results in "long lead times for planning and permitting and create uncertainty about border crossing status and future capacity." There have been no agreements to allow reverse inspections at northern land border crossings, the report said.

In addition, the Detroit River International Crossing, which would connect Interstate 75 and Ontario's Highway 401, could cause congestion and delays, the report said. "It would require the construction of additional customs inspection space in both countries, additional customs personnel, and a new three-mile long highway to connect the bridge to Highway 401 via the E.C. Row Expressway on the Canadian side."

The report, titled "Toward a New Frontier: Improving the U.S. Canadian Border," looks closely at border policy between the U.S. and Canada, and outlines recommendations for how to move forward with strengthening economic and security ties.

"Through our political advocacy efforts, we are urging officials in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa to quickly implement the recommendations in this report," said Richard Blouse, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "It is integral to the Chamber's long-term strategy to transform Detroit into a global logistics hub."

To access the full report, visit www.detroitchamber.com.

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