DETROIT - Michigan officials, including Gov. Rick Snyder, announced Friday a new international connection to Canada.
Snyder says Michigan will see all of the benefits of a new bridge without the costs. Snyder signed the deal he first talked about as soon as he took over as governor.
The governor has slammed the Ambassador Bridge as the No. 1 traffic bottleneck in the entire Pan-American freeway system. He is offering a new, more efficient bridge which he believes greatly advances Metro Detroit's appeal as a transportation hub.
It will be called the New International Trade Crossing, owned and operated by a private entity called The Crossing Authority. It is a public/private partnership expected to last between 40 and 50 years. The length of the partnership depends on how long it will take Canada to get its money back.
"It's time for a new crossing. It's time because trade demands it. It's an opportunity to create jobs and we can work on something exciting," Snyder said at the conference.
He thanked the government of Canada for its support and funding.
"This is more than a traditional partnership. The government of Canada is being kind enough, thoughtful and generous enough to advance the funds to do the Michigan portion of this project," Snyder said.
Special coverage: New Detroit bridge to Canada
The span itself will connect Interstate 75 in the Delray neighborhood of Detroit to Highway 401 in Canada without forcing trucks to wind through residential neighborhoods in both countries.
-- Delray neighborhood of Detroit
Construction estimates project a cost just shy of $1 billion. The Canadian government is offering up just more than $1/2 billion.
Snyder is using the Canadian cash as the qualifier to get matching funds from the U.S. Transportation Department.
Canada will pay all land acquisition costs on both sides of the border. Once the bridge is built, all tolls get collected on the Canadian side.
"The volume of trade over just that one bridge is greater than the trade between the United States and Great Britain," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during the Friday news conference.
In a press release, Gov. Snyder said his project is "protecting the state from shouldering the project's cost" and it "prepares southeastern Michigan to become a global transportation hub when coupled with the region's other resources."
Detroit bridge construction to create jobs
One of the upsides to the new bridge is the creation of 10,000 jobs for construction, Snyder said.
How many jobs will come to the U.S. side of the bridge is still up in the air. The contract does require there to be special set asides for what they are calling community benefit plans.
-- The Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge, has fiercely contested a new bridge. The company has battled Snyder's effort since he became governor, warning Michigan taxpayers that they will have to pay despite Snyder's assurance they won't.
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