OTTAWA — Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced the last financial hurdle to the construction of the long-stalled Windsor-Detroit bridge has been cleared away.
Construction of the badly needed new international crossing has been held up for years in disputes over jurisdiction and funding, most recently over the U.S. government’s authorization of funds to build an adjacent U.S. Customs plaza on the Michigan side.
To get the project up and running, Canada, which is already paying for most of the $2.1-billion construction, has now agreed to pick up the $250-million bill for the American customs facility, with the costs being paid back by tolls collected in future years.
“An arrangement has been signed by all parties and all partners in the project to allow the U.S. Customs plaza to be incorporated into the public-private partnership that will be building the other aspects of the bridge,” Raitt said in the Commons.
“We said very clearly that we were not going to allow financial considerations to get in the way of having progress on this bridge and indeed that is the case."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will pay all staffing costs for the new customs plaza, U.S. authorities said Wednesday. And Raitt told reporters Ottawa has obtained a waiver on the bridge that will get around Buy America provisions that compel construction companies to use only U.S.-made steel on domestic projects.
Ottawa has already agreed to pay $550 million to cover Michigan’s share of a highway interchange on the American side of the bridge.