The $550-million (U.S.) that Canada will lend Michigan to finance construction of a new bridge between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit will have the added bonus of helping the Great Lake State repair parts of its battered road system.
The loan will make Michigan eligible for U.S. federal government matching funds of $2.2-billion that were previously closed off to the state, whose finances were devastated by the recession and the crisis that battered the auto industry in 2008-2009.
“These federal funds represent an opportunity for Michigan to rebuild the roadway infrastructure,” said a study on the economic impact of the new bridge, which was done by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., and released Thursday.
“During the recent recession, as state revenues dropped sharply, the state was eligible for more federal highway dollars than it was able to match (and therefore obtain.) As a result, some necessary road maintenance and new construction projects have been delayed.”
The study was financed by the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Canadian Consultate-General in Detroit.
It was released one day ahead of a scheduled announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder that the two government are co-operating to construct a new bridge about 3 kilometres downstream from the existing Ambassador Bridge.
The plan for the new crossing has already been fought bitterly by Manuel (Matty) Moroun, who owns the existing span and has offered to twin it by raising money privately.
Mr. Moroun is expected to continue that battle after the announcement by making legal and other challenges.
Shipments worth $120-billion (U.S.) cross the Detroit River annually, according to the 2011 census.
The two governments, as well as auto makers and other industries have insisted for years that another crossing is required at Windsor-Detroit to eliminate long lineups of trucks leading up to the bridge and to make sure the key lifeline of Canada-U.S. trade is not choked off in the event of a terrorist attack on the existing bridge,