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Status Report on Transformational [1] and Major Crown Projects [2]


Canada-U.S. Bi-National Transportation Partnership planning new Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), composed of:

  • Transport Canada
  • U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO)
  • Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

The project is a U.S./Canadian, I-75 to Highway 401, end-to-end solution consisting of five components: a new international crossing; the Canadian customs plaza; the U.S. border inspection plaza; the interchange between the U.S. bridge/plaza and Interstate 75; and the highway connector between Canadian bridge/plaza and Highway 401.

It is the Partnership's intention to seek a public-private partnership (P3) for the bridge and plaza portion of project.

The Bridge

The new Detroit River crossing will be a six-lane bridge that will provide three Canada-bound lanes and three U.S.-bound lanes. The new crossing will accommodate future travel demand, both in terms of meeting capacity and providing flexibility to stream traffic on the crossing to improve border process (e.g. designated Nexus/Fast lane.

The new crossing will be constructed to link inspection plazas on the Canadian and U.S. sides of the Detroit River, and will be a key component of the new end-to-end transportation system that will link the existing Highway 401 to the U.S. Interstate system. The crossing will consist of both a main bridge that will span the width of the Detroit River and designed to provide navigational clearances that meet U.S. and Canadian requirements, and approaches to the main bridge that will connect to plazas in both Canada and the United States.

Selection of the bridge type will be made during subsequent design phases of this project. Neither bridge type requires piers to be placed in the Detroit River.

Customs Plaza

In Canada, border inspection plaza alternatives were developed in consideration of the need to provide improved border processing facilities to meet future travel demand and security requirements at the border crossing. The new plaza will be designed to serve the future (2035 and beyond) travel demands at the border crossing. Initial construction of the plaza may not include the fully developed plaza, as the plaza may be developed in stages. The initial construction of the plaza will be such that future expansion will be possible by way of constructing additional inspection or tollbooths.

The plaza was developed in consultation with Canada Border Services Agency and provides sufficient area for primary inspection lane booths and on-site secondary inspection of people and goods. The plaza alternative also allows for dedicated Nexus and Fast lanes and provides for a substantial improvement of border crossing processing capabilities.

The plaza will be situated within the Brighton Beach Industrial Park; bounded by the Detroit River, Chappus Street, Ojibway Parkway and Broadway Street. The plaza includes: total plaza area of 202 acres (72.8 hectares); total of 29 inbound inspection lanes; total of 103 secondary inspection parking spaces for commercial vehicles; nine toll collection lanes; and storm water management features to control quality and quantity of runoff rain water.

Ontario Access Road

The new access road will be a controlled access highway connection approximately 11 kilometres long located between the Border Services Plaza and the provincial highway network. The connection is a six-lane urban freeway involving interchanges, grade separations, road closings and the use of service roads. The connection includes a combination of below-grade, at-grade, and above-grade segments and eleven short-tunnelled (or covered) sections. The width of the right-of-way varies and where possible, existing rights-of way will be utilized. Along the corridor, the maximum width of the new right-of-way, not including the existing right-of way, is approximately 300 meters.

Ontario is responsible for the delivery of the Windsor-Essex Parkway, which will connect Highway 401 with the new border inspection plaza and bridge. The province is in the midst of the procurement process and on October 8, 2009, announced a shortlist of three qualified bidders to move to the request-for-proposal stage.

The Rationale for the Project:

Windsor-Detroit is the busiest land border crossing in North America:

  • $130 billion (2006 Canadian dollars) of two-way surface trade.
  • 28% of total Canada-U.S. trade.
  • Consists of four crossings: Windsor-Detroit tunnel, Ambassador Bridge, truck ferry and Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel.
  • Ambassador Bridge alone handles 99% of Windsor-Detroit truck traffic
  • In recent years, there have been increased traffic delays due to heightened security checks at the U.S.– Canada border. Inefficiencies at the border crossing directly affect costs; thus affecting abilities to compete internationally.
  • Traffic is expected to increase over the next 30 years

Project Phase:

On December 3, 2009, the federal environmental assessment for the new bridge, customs plaza and access road to the bridge – the Windsor-Essex Parkway - was approved. The Province of Ontario commenced some advance construction of the Windsor-Essex Parkway in early 2010, while also advancing its procurement process for the remainder of the Parkway project.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies
Lead Department Transport Canada
Contracting Authority Deloitte
Participating Departments Canada Border Services Agency, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)
Prime Contractor Deloitte
181 Bay Street, Suite 1100, Toronto, ON, M5J 2V1 Canada
Direct 416-643-8382 | Fax 416-601-6690
Major Subcontractor(s)

Investment Grade Traffic & Revenue Forecast:

Wilbur Smith Associates
9500 Arboretum, Suite 360, Austin, Tx, U.S.A., 78759

Air Quality Advisor:

100 - 401 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 1E7

Cost Consultant:

Davis Langdon
1717 Arch Street, Suite 3720, Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A., 19103

Bridge Technical Advisor:

625 Cochrane Drive, Suite 500, Markham, ON, L3R 9R9

Major Milestones
Major Milestone Date
1. EA launched with 15 options considered February, 2005
2. Options narrowed to 3 potential crossing locations, 3 potential plaza locations and 5 potential access road designs. March, 2006
3. Announcement of the technically preferred Ontario Access Road May 1, 2008
4. Announcement of the technically and environmentally preferred alternative for the crossing and plaza locations. June 18, 2008
5. U.S. Final Environmental Impact Statement published for final comment December 5, 2008
6. Final Ontario Environmental Assessment Report submitted to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment / Canadian Environmental Assessment Final Screening Report submitted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency December 31, 2008
7. U.S. Record of Decision January 14, 2009
8. Approval of Ontario's Environmental Assessment August 24, 2009
9. Approval of Federal Environmental Assessment. December 3, 2009

Industrial Benefits

The investment in new border infrastructure will result in a number of positive economic impacts. Recently conducted studies concluded that the direct and indirect (e.g. materials, equipment, services, etc.) impacts of the entire border infrastructure project will lead to the creation of approximately 23,000 jobs; including approximately 13, 000 direct, and 10,000 indirect employment opportunities. This is particularly noteworthy in that Statistics Canada has reported that the Windsor-Essex region has maintained one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada. Ancillary benefits of these jobs are expected to result in increases in consumer spending, as personal income and company profits improve in the region.

Additionally, the project will provide significant opportunities for local businesses to participate in construction related aspects of the project's implementation.


The vast majority, 62 percent, of Canadian and U.S. bi-lateral trade crosses our shared border by land. Each day, almost 36,000 trucks cross the Canada-U.S. border, close to one-third (12,000 trucks) of those at Windsor-Detroit. This project will improve not only the efficiency of the border crossing in the region, but will also provide direct highway connections, thereby reducing costs associated with shipping, and greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants resulting from idling vehicles.

Over the next 30 years, trade between Canada and the U.S. is projected to increase. Under high-growth scenarios, cross-border traffic demand could exceed the capacity of the present border crossings in the Detroit River area as early as 2015.


Given the significant interdependency of the Canadian and American economies, there is nothing more important to exporters and importers on both sides of the border than being able to ensure that traffic at the border flows efficiently and that the international supply chain remains strong.

Businesses from coast-to-coast in Canada and the United States depend on a reliable and secure transportation network. Manufacturing production depends heavily on the fast and predictable trucking of components, parts and finished products across the border, particularly between Windsor-Detroit.

It is estimated that the direct and indirect impact of the entire border infrastructure project on the province's GDP will be $1.6 billion. Additionally, utilizing Ontario's two-thirds attribution ratio, it is expected that approximately 15,000 total jobs will occur in the Windsor-Essex Region, while contributing an estimated $587 million to the GDP of the Windsor-Essex region.


The Bi-national Partnership is working with border inspection agencies in both countries to ensure that the proposed border processing facilities meet future travel demand and their security requirements at the border crossing. The plazas will be designed to serve future (2035 and beyond) travel demands. These new plazas are being developed in consultation with the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection Branch, to provide sufficient areas for primary inspection-lane booths and on-site secondary inspection of people and goods. The plaza designs will allow for dedicated Nexus and Fast lanes and will provide for a substantial improvement of border processing capabilities including areas for permanent gamma ray inspection equipment.

With almost $2 billion (CDN) daily in cross-border trade with the United States, keeping the trade system open and flowing efficiently is critical to ensuring both countries economic prosperity. It is equally critical to protect the border against potential threats to our health, security and economy. Redundant infrastructure will help keep the border open in case of incidents at other crossings.

[1] As defined in the Policy on the Management of Projects.

[2] As defined in the Policy on the Management of Major Crown Projects.