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.