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'This is all about jobs for today and tomorrow'; Snyder lauds federal government's approval of key NITC permit

Friday, April 12, 2013

DETROIT - Gov. Rick Snyder today welcomed federal issuance of a key permit needed to proceed with the New International Trade Crossing, a project expected to create 12,000 jobs and enhance Michigan's economic future.

Michigan applied for the Presidential Permit on June 21, 2012, days after Snyder signed the historic NITC crossing agreement with Canadian officials. Effectiveness of the agreement was subject to approval by the U.S. State Department. The department conducted an extended public comment period before approving the permit, which now makes the Michigan-Canada agreement operative. While other steps remain before NITC construction begins, they hinged on Michigan's ability to secure a Presidential Permit.

"This is all about jobs for today and tomorrow," Snyder said. "This is a major construction project that is expected to create 12,000 direct jobs and as many as 31,000 indirect jobs. Getting Michigan-made products to more markets faster will enhance our economic competitiveness in the future and help our state create more jobs.

"This project is important for the future of Michigan, the United States and Canada. I appreciate the U.S. State Department's thorough review as well as the continued support of our Canadian partners. This new trade crossing will make Michigan stronger in many ways."

The U.S. State Department determined that the NITC will "serve the national interest" for several reasons, including its job-creation benefits, advancement of America's foreign policy interests, promotion of cross-border trade and commerce, and added capacity to accommodate expected border traffic growth.

The NITC will be built at no cost to Michigan taxpayers and will provide a modern, strategically located bridge between Detroit and Windsor. It is supported by a broad coalition that includes business and labor. The project is vital to enhancing the $70 billion-a-year trade relationship between Michigan and Canada. It will generate thousands of short- and long-term jobs on both sides of the border, open trade markets, strengthen economic security and ease traffic congestion.

"Michigan is moving forward and the future is bright," Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said. "We're positioning the Detroit community and our entire state to thrive in the global economy. The NITC will open doors for entrepreneurs, farmers and manufacturers in every corner of our state. There's still much work to be done but approval of the Presidential Permit is a significant step along Michigan's path to prosperity. We look forward to working with the Delray community as this project progresses."

The U.S. State Department issues Presidential Permits for the construction, connection, operation or maintenance of certain facilities at U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. Permits are required for land crossings, bridges, pipelines, tunnels and tramways. 

With the Presidential Permit in hand, next steps include naming members to the International Authority, planning for the relocation of utilities,  initiating the process for land acquisition and applying for a U.S. Coast Guard permit. The entire project will take about seven years and includes the building of interchange ramps and an inspection plaza. Construction of the actual bridge span is expected to begin in about two years.

The Federal Highway Administration granted Michigan's request for  a Buy America waiver in December 2012, allowing for the use of American and Canadian steel in the bridge.

The NITC will be a public bridge operated by a private concessionaire. Its benefits include:

  • The creation of about 12,000 direct and as many as 31,000 indirect jobs related to construction.

  • Allowing Michigan to use Canada's generous contribution of up to $550 million as eligible matching funds for U.S. federal aid to support the state's highway projects.

  • A new direct connection between I-75 in Michigan and Highway 401 in Canada that eases traffic congestion at the border and allows trucks to bypass residential communities. The existing bridge at the Detroit-Windsor crossing is the No. 1 traffic bottleneck in the entire Pan-American Freeway system.

  • Reducing costs to job providers, particularly the auto industry. Estimates show that border regulations and delays now add significant costs to vehicle production.

  • Minimizing the likelihood of an economic disaster for Michigan or Windsor should one of the other border crossings sustain lengthy shutdowns.

  • Additional border-crossing capacity to meet the long-term demands of our growing economies.

  • New investment being attracted to Michigan by this modern infrastructure.

The Michigan-Canada agreement allows for the creation of an International Authority to oversee the letting of bids to privately design, develop, finance, construct and operate the NITC. The Authority will be comprised of three members appointed by Canada and three members appointed by Michigan.

Construction cost of the bridge itself - not including other project components such as land acquisition and the I-75 interchange construction, which Canada will pay for directly - is estimated at $950 million. The cost will be paid by a private concessionaire and will be repaid by Canada through tolls.