Canadian Consulting Engineer

New $4-billion Windsor-Detroit crossing inches closer

After a protracted and troubled history, plans for a new bridge over the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit are inching closer to reality.

January 1, 1999   Canadian Consulting Engineer

After a protracted and troubled history, plans for a new bridge over the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit are inching closer to reality.

On January 15, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada and the State of Michigan had signed an agreement to build a publicly owned crossing in southwest Ontario. The agreement “establishes the framework for each party’s roles and responsibilities” for constructing, financing, operating and maintaining the crossing.

The Windsor-Detroit trade corridor is the busiest commercial crossing between Canada and the U.S., carrying approximately 25% of the trade volume.

Existing traffic uses the Ambassador Bridge, a 2,300-metre long toll crossing built in 1929 that is owned and controlled by billionaire Manuel Moroun through the Detroit International Bridge Company in the U.S. and the Canadian Transit Company in Canada.

Moroun has fiercely opposed any new public crossing and has paid millions in advertisements to garner opposition and since the latest announcement, is said to be supporting a public referendum to block the construction of a new government-owned bridge.

URS Canada led the Canadian portion of the studies and overall plans for the entire Windsor-Detroit crossing components. These include the new bridge downriver from the existing one, as well as Canadian and U.S. inspection plazas, and an interchange with Interstate-75. This overall study was known as the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study.

According to the Canadian government release, construction is expected to take four to five years and will all be funded by the Government of Canada except for the U.S. customs plaza. Canada says the crossing will meet future trade and investment needs between the U.S. and Canada. The total construction costs are valued at $3.5 to $4 billion, which the Canadian government expects to recoup from toll revenues.

Canada and the Government of Ontario are already building an 11-kilometre parkway to connect Highway 401 to the proposed new plaza and custom inspection plaza (click here). The new Windsor-Essex Parkway is being constructed by Acciona and Fluor Canada, with Hatch Mott MacDonald as the lead design firm. Other firms involved in the parkway project include Dillon Consulting, LEA Consulting, Black & McDonald and AMEC. click here.


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