Plan would build new US-Canada bridge at Detroit

Officials strike deal to build Canadian-financed bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- Officials have reached an agreement to build a new Canadian-financed bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, a massive construction project that could create thousands of jobs and increase international trade, the Michigan governor's office announced Friday.

A summary of the agreement provided to The Associated Press states that Michigan wouldn't be obligated to pay any of the costs of the bridge. Both countries would be represented on a bridge board, and a Canadian entity would handle design, construction and operation of the bridge.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley plan to join officials including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for an announcement Friday in Windsor. A signing ceremony on the New International Trade Crossing agreement was planned later in the day at Detroit's Cobo Center.

The cost to build Michigan's half of the bridge would be repaid through tolls collected on the Canadian side of the bridge, according to the summary. The government of Canada would fund the purchase of land in Canada and Michigan, as well as building roadways connecting the bridge to Interstate 75 in Detroit.

The bridge would span the Detroit River south of the existing Ambassador Bridge. Plans for a Canadian-financed span have been entangled with controversy and fiercely opposed by Manuel "Matty" Moroun, private owner of the Ambassador Bridge. His Detroit International Bridge Co. wants to add a span of its own.

Moroun's advertising and lobbying campaign has influenced a number of Snyder's fellow Republicans in the Michigan Legislature. On Thursday, the GOP-controlled state House approved a supplemental budget bill that bars the governor from spending state money on a U.S.-Canada bridge.

Snyder has said a separate bridge between Detroit and Windsor is needed, even if Ambassador Bridge's owner carries out his plans to add a second span. Snyder said the bridge would add jobs and accelerate exports and imports between the U.S. and Canada.

Canadian officials have said they favor the international crossing that Snyder supports, since it would allow traffic to remain on expressways in both countries rather than traveling on local streets.

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Associated Press writer David Runk in Detroit contributed to this report.

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