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Michigan legislators call for T&R study, prelim legal, engineering for 3rd Detroit crossing

Michigan legislators have passed language in their budget for next fiscal year to prepare the way for concessioning a third toll crossing to Canada from Detroit. The budget contains $2.5m for the Michigan DOT to continue to advance preliminary legal, financial, engineering and environmental permitting to prepare for seeking a private sector toll concessionaire to finance, build, and operate the bridge. Ambassador Bridge lobbyists had worked to cut off the funding. The $2.5m will attract 80% federal matching funds, making a total $12.5m available. The project is often known as Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC).

The budget legislation specifically requires an investment grade traffic and revenue (T&R) study for submission by Michigan DOT to the legislature by May 1 next year. The budget language says the legislature intends to pass enabling legislation for a P3 concession, or establish a public toll authority in conjunction with the Canadians by June 1, 2010 if the project is a goer.

Existing fixed crossings are the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel (and there is a truck ferry that handles hazmat and large loads). Site for the third fixed crossing has been selected after some years of alternatives selection and environmental permitting. Difficult approaches on the Canadian side are designed in some detail, permitted, and funded.

The bridge is to be about 3km (2 miles) downstream of the Ambassador Bridge. The route makes for a more direct connection between I-75 south of Detroit and the Canadian Highway 401, avoiding congested roadways on the downtown Detroit end and commercial Huron Church Road, a procession of traffic signals, on the Windsor side.

The Detroit Windsor Tunnel connects strictly local streets on both sides.

Bridge owners make many enemies

The Ambassador Bridge owners strongly oppose the new bridge, saying the traffic numbers don't warrant extra capacity, so they have lobbied against state support for permitting a competitor.

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by Salnkah

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