U.S. Issues Presidential Permit for Detroit-Windsor Span

The U.S. State Department said President Barack Obama has approved a new bridge connecting Detroit with Windsor, Ontario at the busiest crossing along the U.S.-Canada border.

The department said in a statement today it has issued a presidential permit to Michigan to build the bridge after determining the project would “serve the national interest.” The bridge will “meet future capacity requirements in a critical travel corridor,” it said.

The Windsor-Detroit crossing is the busiest in the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship, with more than C$130 billion ($128 billion) in shipments and 8,000 trucks crossing each day, according to Canadian government data. Truck traffic is expected to triple over the next 30 years, the country’s transport department estimates.

Much of the traffic now passes over the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge, a toll bridge owned by Detroit International Bridge Co., a private firm controlled by billionaire Manuel Moroun. Moroun has opposed the project, arguing the new bridge is unnecessary and costly, and has proposed to add a new span to the Ambassador Bridge.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Canada Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said the new bridge would enhance trade between the two nations.

“This is huge,” Snyder told reporters at a press conference today in Detroit.“It’s really much more than a bridge to me, it’s about jobs and our future in this state.”

Snyder said the tentative date for completing the bridge is 2020.

Raitt said the new bridge is a national infrastructure priority for Canada that will ease the flow of trade between the two nations, especially for the auto industry. “It’s our intention to make sure we get to completing the crossing as soon as possible,” she said.

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