Business Leaders Urge Lawmakers to Pass Legislation for DRIC Project

Stressing the importance of growing jobs, commerce and trade, an all-star line-up of leaders from Michigan and Canadian business and labor, city and the state governments together today urged Michigan lawmakers to remove the only remaining hurdle to the new Detroit River International Crossing — enactment of legislation that would enable Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership to build and operate the new bridge. The project is expected to create 10,000 Michigan construction jobs. Over the next 20 years, the new bridge is expected to support 25,000 full-time, permanent jobs in Michigan.

Detroit River International Crossing

"The DRIC project is critical to Michigan's future," said Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "Construction of the DRIC will provide an immediate injection of jobs to Michigan and will sustain tens of thousands more jobs through trade with Canada once built, all with minimal cost to the tax payer.  It's vital that the Michigan legislature act swiftly to authorize the DRIC and assure that we can continue to efficiently and safely move people and goods across our border."

The $5.3 billion DRIC project is a bi-national effort necessary to provide safe, efficient and secure transportation between the U.S. and Canada across the Detroit River that will meet the long-term needs for the region.  The Michigan site chosen for the new bridge is two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge in the Delray area of Detroit.

"The Government of Canada is deeply committed to building the new DRIC bridge as soon as possible," said Canada's Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer. "The new bridge will provide increased border crossing capacity and system redundancy and will ensure that Detroit-Windsor — North America's busiest border crossing — can support the continued growth of Canada-U.S. trade."

The DRIC is the only international crossing in the Detroit-Windsor corridor that has received all necessary environmental approvals for construction from the Canadian and U.S. governments.  Needed is enactment of so-called P3 (public-private partnership) legislation that would permit the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to enter into a relationship with Canada and a private sector transportation project developer/financier. The new bridge will be a publicly owned. Bridge tolls will be used to repay the private developer/financier, much the same way as other toll roads or bridges.

House Bill 4961, the P3 legislation, is pending in the House Transportation Committee and is expected to be taken up in April.

"Using a well-respected econometric model, the DRIC will produce more than 6,000 jobs in Oakland County," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.  "It will be a huge boost to the county, region and state. The DRIC should be implemented immediately by the state legislature. If we do not act quickly on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we'll watch a new border crossing built between Canada and Buffalo (NY)."

The new bridge would connect U.S. I-75 and Canadian Highway 401 with an expressway providing for the free flow of goods between the two countries.

The U.S. and Canada is each country's largest trading partner.  One quarter of all trade between the two countries passes through the Detroit-Windsor crossing, equating to more than $43.8 billion of trade annually. The Final Environmental Impact Statement shows commercial truck traffic increasing by over 100 percent by 2035.

"The DRIC project will assure that Michigan businesses continue to have access to Canadian markets creating and sustaining thousands of jobs for our state," said Lt. Governor John D. Cherry, Jr. "Canada remains our largest trading partner and the DRIC will provide a resilient border infrastructure to sustain and expand this economic partnership.  I urge the Michigan legislature to act to assure that this vital project moves forward."

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, more than 450 major Michigan businesses from Holland to Hazel Park count on the free flow of trade with Canada to keep their businesses competitive. Trade with Canada supports 220,000 Michigan jobs and nearly 58 percent of Michigan's exports are sent to Canada. The DRIC project would protect the combined $100 million in automotive goods that travel across the Windsor-Detroit border. The automotive industry, which is deeply woven into both countries, depends on the smooth flow of just-in-time deliveries across the Detroit-Windsor border.

Granholm, Doer, and Patterson were joined by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing; Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis; former Michigan Governor and Ambassador to Canada James Blanchard; Steve Biegun, Ford Vice President, International Government Affairs; Mark Gaffney, President of the Michigan Statewide AFL-CIO; Shorty Gleason, President of the Michigan Building Trades and Construction Council; and Detroit Regional Chamber President Sandy Baruah gathered at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce to speak out on the need for the new bridge to meet increased traffic and security demands, expand trade and create tens of thousands of jobs.  Supporters from southwest Detroit's Delray community were also present.

Snapshot

Detroit River International Crossing Project

As of April 16, 2010

DRIC

  • Received all required approvals from Canadian and U.S. governments, U.S. Coast Guard, Michigan Department of Transportation
  • With approval of the Michigan legislature, construction could begin this year
  • Will take 4-5 years to build

Michigan Jobs

  • Construction will create 10,000 Michigan construction jobs
  • Indirectly support an additional 30,000 Michigan workers
  • When open, support or retain 25,000 Michigan jobs

Cost

  • $5.3 billion total estimated cost
  • $1.8 billion for the U.S. portion of the bridge, U.S. plaza and connection to I-75
  • $3.5 billion for the Canadian portion of the bridge, Canadian plaza and connection to Highway 401

Trade

  • Annual trade between Canada and U.S. = $500 billion per year
  • 25 percent of U.S. and Canada trade relies on the Detroit-Windsor crossing
  • Trade between the U.S. and Canada supports more than 8 million U.S. jobs
  • 220,000 Michigan jobs rely on U.S.-Canadian trade
  • 1 in 3 Canadian jobs rely on U.S.-Canadian trade
  • Canada is Michigan's largest trading partner purchasing 58 percent of all Michigan's foreign-bound goods
  • In 2008, trade between Canada and Michigan reached $67.4 billion
  • 251 Canadian-owned businesses are located in Michigan employing more than 22,000 workers
  • Canada trades more with Michigan than any other U.S. state

Truck Traffic

  • Detroit-Windsor is the busiest international trade crossing in the world
  • More than 3.5 million trucks cross the Detroit River annually
  • Commercial truck traffic will increase by more than 100 percent by 2035 (included in the FEIS for the project)
  • In 2010, daily truck volume is up more than 1,000 trucks, or 21 percent over the same period last year

Source: http://www.partnershipborderstudy.com/

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