State chambers urge swift action to resolve funding for new Detroit-Windsor bridge customs facility

State Chambers of Commerce from across the U.S. including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin, have all signed a letter to the President and Congress, urging federal funding for the U.S. Customs Plaza for the New International Trade Crossing (NITC).

These states represent more than 40 percent of the U.S. population and all have signed the letter regarding the importance of the bridge project, the economic impact it will have on businesses and their employees in their respective states, and the importance of reliable transportation infrastructure between the U.S. and Canada at the Detroit-Windsor border.

Click here to read the letter.

Obama administration sets aside money for bridges and customs plazas

On Tuesday, the Obama administration set aside approximately $480 million for bridges and U.S. customs plazas, but no funding was specifically designated for the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) project. This is a positive sign from the administration, but it will be up to Congress and NITC supporters to get the funds appropriated specifically for the NITC.

Stay tuned to this website for more news as it happens.

Snyder reinforces economic ties with Canada during daylong visit

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder will travel to Toronto for a daylong visit on Monday where he will speak to the Council of the Great Lakes Region and meet with business executives and government officials of the neighboring province of Ontario.

“Canada is Michigan’s most important trading partner, both in imports and exports, and we share many common economic values and concerns,” Snyder said. “We are working to further strengthen our relationships with the provincial government as well as seeking new business investment in Michigan by Canadian companies. Our improved business climate is a story we are taking everywhere we go and it is opening up new opportunities for Michigan.”

Michigan led all states with more than $25 billion in exports to Canada in 2012. The country accounts for 46 percent of the state’s total worldwide exports.

“We cannot overstate just how important this country is to the economy of our state,” Snyder said. “More than neighbors, we are partners in a very real sense both for geographic and economic reasons.”

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a new, binational regional organization that enhances regional collaboration and cross-border integration by bringing together stakeholders from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors to advance effective, coordinated, and broadly shared responses to the region’s common challenges. It is incorporated in both Canada and the United States.

Snyder will discuss the use of partnerships between the public and private sectors to address needs through reduced cost, revenue generation and economic development. Improved transportation infrastructure is a focus of regional interest. Last year, Snyder and Canadian officials laid the groundwork for the New International Trade Crossing, a modern, strategically located bridge between Detroit and Windsor that is vital to a strong trade relationship between Michigan and Canada.

Michigan exports to Canada include transportation equipment, machinery, oil and gas, primary metal manufacturing, chemicals and food products. Transportation equipment sales totaled $14.2 billion, or more than 55 percent of all Michigan exports to Canada.

More than 240 Canadian-owned companies employ 22,523 Michiganders in 700-plus locations across the state. The largest include Martinrea International with 1,300 employees here; Ballard Power Systems, 1,100; Grand Trunk Western Railroad, 1,100; Magna Mirrors of America, 1,058; Magna Seating of America, 965; and Guelph Tool Sales, 900.

More than 80 Michigan companies have operations in Canada including Auto-Owners Insurance, Dart Container, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Kellogg, Lear Corp., Steelcase, Stryker and Whirlpool.

Bridge to Prosperity: New Bridge Between U.S. and Canada Approved

Originally posted by
Aaron M. Phelps
Varnum LLP

Michigan farmers are among legions of organizations expressing gratitude now that a new bridge between the U.S. and Canada has been approved by the Obama Administration, setting the stage for a sharp increase in trade between Michigan and Canada.

The presidential permit awarded by the State Department April 12 clears the way for construction to begin in Michigan on the New International Trade Crossing Bridge.  The new span  will “serve the national interest,” the State Department said in granting the permit.

Michigan is Canada’s largest trade partner, with trade in 2011 exceeding $70 billion. That’s nearly 11.7 percent of the total U.S. trade with Canada. More than 8,000 trucks currently cross the Detroit-Windsor border daily.

Called “Michigan’s Bridge to the Future,”  the New International Trade Crossing Bridge will be built near the existing Ambassador Bridge that links Detroit with Windsor. Michigan voters in November overwhelmingly rejected a ballot proposal spearheaded by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun to require voter approval for any bridge built between the U.S. and Canada.

Under a deal struck last year between Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper,  Canada will pay for the bridge, with construction costs repaid by Canada through tolls.  Snyder said in a statement the crossing will create jobs and get Michigan-made products to market quicker.”

From the standpoint of Michigan agriculture, this additional transportation capacity is vital to streamline and expand our access to markets in Canada,” Michigan Farm Bureau Legislative Counsel Matt Smego said in prepared remarks.

Construction has already started on the Canadian side. Michigan Gov. Snyder said he hopes for groundbreaking on the Detroit side within the next two to three years. Construction is expected to take seven years.

The city of Windsor, meanwhile,  on May 28 asked Michigan officials for more information regarding the Michigan Department of Transportation’s recommendation to open the existing Ambassador Bridge to trucks carrying hazardous materials for the first time in its 83-year history. The recommendation excludes the transportation of explosives.

Canada won’t try to recapture Detroit by using the proposed New International Trade Crossing bridge

Originally posted by MichEconomy.com

There hasn’t been a lot of news about the proposed bridge linking Detroit and Windsor since a ballot proposal that would have required Michigan residents to vote on its construction was defeated in November.

But the project is moving along, according to Roy Norton, Canada’s consul general in Detroit.

A waiver of the federal “buy American” requirement has been approved, allowing the contractor to use Canadian steel on the span. American steel also will be used. Rumors that Chinese steel will be used in constructing the bridge are untrue, Norton said.

The next step is approval of a presidential permit in Washington, which should be finalized in a few months.

“We don’t anticipate any difficulty,” Norton told me. “The process is taking its natural course.”

Once that final permit is approved, Canada can start purchasing land where the bridge will connect in Detroit. Canada must buy the property, Norton said, because the project agreement requires Canada to pay all of the bridge costs.

But the gentlemanly Norton says that Canada is not treading on U.S. sovereignty by purchasing land for the bridge in Detroit.

“We are reconciled to the outcome of the War of 1812,” he said. “We are not trying to take Detroit over again.”

Norton said he expects construction of the bridge to start next year.

It’s Time to Build the Bridge

A look at what others are saying since the voters rejected Proposal 6

“We’re very pleased to see the support of the people of Michigan for the new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, which is very important to the economies of both our countries. Whatever battles lie ahead, this bridge is going to be done.”
– Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister

“The sooner we can build that bridge, the better off we are in creating jobs.”
– Governor Rick Snyder

“We’re very heartened, Canadians are, that Michiganders have seen through the campaign that was waged by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge and that clearly Michiganders have decided they want a bridge built.”
– Roy Norton, Canadian General Consul to Detroit

“The failure of this proposal means that the two governments can get on with putting up the new bridge – known as the New International Trade Crossing – scheduled to be ready for traffic in 2017. It is long overdue. Seven years ago, the Canadian Senate Committee on National Security and Defense, in its report Borderline Insecure, urged the federal government to do everything in its power to put a new span in place by 2013.”
– Colin Kenny, Former chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defense

“The defeat of Proposal 6 clears the way for the construction of the new bridge across the Detroit River. This is good news for travelers, workers and industry on both sides of the border who will benefit from the new publicly owned bridge.”
– Denis Lebel, Canadian Federal Transport Minister

“I think the vote is great. One of the reasons I think that is that we are constantly talking about developing the corridor from here all the way up to the Canadian border, so the idea that there is the potential for a new bridge that is a bit closer to the city of Toledo, that could increase the commerce we are doing in Canada as well as northern America, and that is a benefit to everybody.”
– Mike Bell, Mayor, City of Toledo

“There will be pay checks for our people working on construction of the bridge. Only American and Canadian steel will be used. There will be no cost for Michigan taxpayers. Our total cost will be paid by bridge user fares. This is truly a free bridge.”
– John F. McEwan, Former Mayor, City of River Rouge

“Any time you get hung up, it costs you time and certainly costs you money. This will be a huge boost to us as we send parts, powertrains, and vehicles back and forth across the border.”
– Bill Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company

“This will be a real test to see if the Morouns really do think that the people should decide. The people have clearly decided now. Are they going to let the new bridge proceed? Or are they going to throw up frivolous lawsuits to delay?”
– Sandy Baruah., President and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce

“This is a great victory for citizens and businesses on both sides of the border. Michigan and Canada share one of the largest trade relationships in the world. With this wise decision voters have signaled they are ready to cooperate on a huge project to enhance that partnership.”
– Perrin Beatty, President, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

“It looks good on the people of Michigan. There has been so much misinformation bandied about but they weren’t buying it. It restores your faith in democracy. When you drive a truck from Toronto to Miami you go through 16 stoplights, and 15 of them are in Windsor.”
– David Bradley, President, Ontario Trucking Association

“Voters seem happy with the job Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature have done in the past two years, and they aren’t about to let loads of money from special interests throw the state into reverse.”
– Detroit News

“No matter what measures Moroun takes, the process is too far along to suffer significant setbacks. The bridge company, however, has suffered many, including the Gateway Project ruling that sent both Moroun and bridge president Dan Stamper to jail for illegally rerouting Detroit traffic to their entrance.

This is an exciting time for people in Windsor and Detroit. The build will result in thousands of jobs and increase cross-border trade and travel.

And Moroun? Well, he asked the people to decide, and they decided they wanted to build a new bridge and embrace prosperity. What more is there to say, except go away?”
– The Windsor Star

“This battle has dragged on for nearly a decade, and this is the most economically important border crossing in America. The people have spoken. The new bridge is legal. It will create jobs and not cost Michigan a cent. Elections mean something, and this one means both governments should begin building it as quickly as safety allows.”
– Jack Lessenberry, Political Analyst, Michigan Radio

“Michigan voters decided Tuesday that they’d prefer leaving infrastructure decisions, like building a new international bridge, to the people we elect and pay to make those decisions. And the people we elected to make this decision believe this bridge is necessary.”
– Jeff Wattrick, Columnist, Deadline Detroit