You might not realize it, but Detroit is the busiest commercial border crossing in North America. Some 8,000 trucks cross the bridge into Canada each day, and all of that trade supports 257,000 jobs across Michigan. But unless we act now, those jobs could be in jeopardy because of our total dependence on the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge as the primary point of entry into our neighbor to the north.
That’s why I’m so excited to announce today a new agreement between Michigan and Canada that lays the groundwork for the New International Trade Crossing — a bridge between Detroit and Windsor that is vital to protecting Michigan’s jobs and $70 billion-a-year trade with Canada. The best part of the agreement is that the bridge will create thousands of new jobs – including 10,000 Michigan jobs related to the project — and it won’t cost Michigan taxpayers one penny.
You might ask why the bridge is needed, and that’s a good question. Today, we rely on the decades-old Ambassador Bridge to carry 99 percent of commercial traffic through Detroit. It’s narrow, only has four lanes for commercial traffic, has never been re-decked, lacks a direct freeway-to-freeway connection, and dumps traffic into commercial streets in Windsor, where trucks get stopped by 18 stoplights on the way to the highway. Compare that to the crossings in Buffalo, where twice the number of lanes to carry about 60 percent of the trade at the Detroit-Windsor crossing. All of that adds up to long waits, with one trucker remarking, “You know, you’re in a line sometimes up to four, or five or six hours.”
If you’re not a trucker, that might not seem like a problem. But for the companies relying on getting parts to their factories on time or shipping their products to customers, time is money. The automotive industry, for example, reports that delays at the border add significant costs to the cars they sell. If businesses see that our border crossing is hurting their bottom line, they may locate their operations elsewhere, meaning that Michigan’s economy will lose out on new jobs. Companies want reliable ways to get their products to market, but unfortunately that’s not what they’re getting today. It’s not surprising, then, that our automotive industry, statewide and local business organizations, and four former governors agree that Michigan needs the New International Trade Crossing.
There’s another reason, too, that we should build a second bridge to Canada – ensuring Michigan’s economic security. If disaster strikes, if the Ambassador Bridge were attacked, or if massive repairs were needed, our trade would effectively be shut down, and Michigan’s workers would suffer. We saw that in Minnesota when the Mississippi River bridge collapsed in 2007 — one year and nearly $300 million later, a replacement was completed, but not without significant cost to the people of the state.
Today, we have an opportunity to greatly improve our border crossing, give businesses more of a reason to grow and expand in our state, and help make Michigan the global transportation hub that it can and should be. And we can do it at no cost to the people of Michigan, thanks to our friends in Canada. The New International Trade Crossing will be a great accomplishment for the people of our state, and it will be another giant step toward reinventing Michigan.