Truckers impatient for DRIC bridge

Project has been delayed too long: Bradley

By Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star

Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley pushed for expedited construction of the planned $1-billion government-backed bridge and better streamlining of the customs clearance process at the Canada-U.S. border during a hearing this week on the federal government’s omnibus bill.

The sweeping legislation currently being debated in Ottawa by legislators includes the Bridge to Strengthen Trade Act which would exempt the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge from certain environmental approvals and speed the start of construction.

“Construction will still need to abide by environmental laws,” Bradley said Friday.

“The project has already been through a major environmental assessment. I believe we need to expedite this and reduce the opportunity for lawsuits to slow it down.

“We think it’s a very important infrastructure project that has been delayed for too long.”

During the Senate transport committee hearing this week on the omnibus bill, Bradley called the planned DRIC bridge “North America’s most important gateway” for trade.

“As one who has been championing a new second crossing for about 20 years – who was present 10 years ago when the Prime Minister and the Ontario Premier of the day launched the current process and then watched as the political gamesmanship, particularly in Michigan, very nearly scuppered the whole thing – almost anything that expedites the construction of this vital trade link is a good thing,” he told the committee.

Bradley also continues to push for faster clearance at the border in both directions for truckers and trucking companies.

A report released this week by Statistics Canada called Trucking Across the Border revealed that in 2009 the extra costs of cross-border trucking added about 0.4 per cent to the value of exported goods and 0.8 per cent to the value of imported goods.

While that may not sound significant, that figure adds up to millions each year when considering $300 million in trade passes daily through the Windsor-Detroit border alone.

Cross-border trade costs more because of higher fixed costs per shipment related to border delays and border-related compliance costs. Those added costs are being passed on by trucking firms to their customers, the report said.

“We do believe if you’re going to have a more secure and more efficient border you’ve got to transmit information electronically and take out as much paper as you can,” Bradley said.

The omnibus bill also includes changes to the Customs Act that would allow for a single carrier code – one valid identifier of the carrier prior to entering Canada.

The trucking industry is ready for the change, said Bradley, who is in favour of the move.