Canada and the USA are each other’s largest trading partners – by a long shot! Over $650 billion in goods are exchanged each year between the two nations, with almost a quarter occurring at the Detroit-Windsor corridor. By comparison, the next highest volume border crossing, in Buffalo, handles about one third of what is trucked across the Detroit River. With these kinds of numbers, it was only a matter of time until demand outweighed supply. And that time has come. By 2020, the two tunnels, ferry crossing, and bridge that currently see over $500 million pass under, on, or over it every single day will welcome a new addition to its roster.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge
The new mega bridge is to be constructed about 3.2 kilometers south of the Ambassador Bridge, a suspension bridge that is currently the busiest commercial international border crossing in North America. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Manuel Moroun, is the harshest opponent of the project.
The mega bridge will feature a total of six lanes, and allow for the transportation of hazardous materials – currently not allowed on the Ambassador Bridge. The mega bridge will also have direct connections to Ontario’s Highway 401 and Michigan’s I-75.
Ten Years of Negotiations
First proposed in 2014, the deal was finally sealed after the Canadian government agreed to pick up the $250-300 million cost of a customs plaza on the American side back in May 2015. The Department of Homeland Security soon-after confirmed that a “public-private partnership” would use tolls to reimburse Canada for the plaza’s construction. In return, America would pay for the workers, operations, and maintenance of the plaza in Detroit – with a first year cost of about $100 million.
Not Just for Truckers
Not lost in all of this is the number of cars that will benefit from the new mega bridge. Currently 18,500 vehicles cross the Detroit River every day. That number is expected to hit 26,500 by 2025. And who is Gordie Howe you ask? Let’s just say they call him Mr. Hockey for a reason!