Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canada to buy U.S. land for Windsor-Detroit crossing

February 5, 2014
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canada is preparing to buy approximately 1,000 parcels of land in Detroit in order to move ahead its plans for building a new bridge to the U.S.

Canada is preparing to buy approximately 1,000 parcels of land in Detroit in order to move ahead its plans for building a new bridge to the U.S.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Roy Norton, Canada’s consul to Detroit, says that the transborder project was too important not to go ahead, so Canada would proceed to make the land purchases on the U.S. side, even though the U.S. government has not yet committed the $200 million to build the customs plaza on the Detroit side.

The newspaper quoted Norton: “We’re about to proceed with land purchases some time in the next few months, and we’re going to do that whether there’s been an indication from the U.S. government on a commitment to the customs plaza or not. That involves a little bit of risk on our part, obviously, but we’re so confident that this ultimately will be built that it’s prudent to do that.”

The project to build a new crossing over the Detroit River has been a long and troubled saga. The project began in 2006, and since then it has faced setbacks, not least having to deal with fierce opposition and pending lawsuits from the U.S. private owners of the nearby tolled Ambassador Bridge.


Located about two miles downstream from the Ambassador Bridge, the “New International Trade Crossing (NITC)” (originally called the Detroit River International Crossing), will form a connection between Highway 401 in Canada and Interstate 75 in the U.S.

On Canada’s side a highway to connect the bridge to Highway 401 is already under construction. The Rt. Hon Herb Gray Parkway by the Windsor-Essex Mobility Group will provide an express link to divert traffic away from Windsor’s city streets.

In Detroit approximately 160 acres is needed to provide space for the customs plaza and interchanges to the interstate system. The land sits in southwest Windsor’s Delray district, which the Detroit Free Press calls “one of the most distressed and abandoned districts in the city.” According to a June 2012 agreement between Michigan and Canada, the state of Michigan will acquire the land parcels and then be reimbursed by Canada.

It has been estimated that the new crossing will carry up to 26,500 vehicles by 2025, providing toll revenue to repay Canadian taxpayers who are funding the majority of the cost of the new crossing.

Canada is seeking someone to head up the new Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority to oversee construction and operations of the bridge.

Morrison Hershfield, Davis Langdon (AECOM) and Delcan were retained by Transport Canada to develop cost estimates for the crossing on the Canadian side.


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