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


The Canada-United States Bi-National Transportation Partnership that is planning the new Detroit River International Crossing, is composed of:

  • Transport Canada
  • U.S. Federal Highway Administration
  • Ontario Ministry of Transportation
  • Michigan Department of Transportation

The project is a United States/Canadian, Interstate 75 to Highway 401, end-to-end solution consisting of five components: a new international crossing; the Canadian customs plaza; the United States border inspection plaza; the interchange between the United States 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 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 United States 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 United States 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 United States 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 United States 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 (Canadian dollars in 2006) of two-way surface trade;
  • 28 percent of total Canada-United States trade;
  • Consists of four crossings: Windsor-Detroit tunnel, Ambassador Bridge, truck ferry and Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel;
  • Ambassador Bridge alone handles 99 percent of Windsor-Detroit truck traffic;
  • In recent years, there have been increased traffic delays due to heightened security checks at the United States–Canada border. Inefficiencies at the border crossing directly affect costs; thus affecting abilities to compete internationally; and
  • 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, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and
Environment Canada

Prime and Major Subcontractors
Prime Contractor Deloitte
181 Bay Street, Suite 1100
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 2V1
Tel: 416-643-8382
Fax: 416-601-6690
Major Subcontractors

Investment Grade Traffic & Revenue Forecast
Wilbur Smith Associates
9500 Arboretum, Suite 360
Austin, Texas
United States of America

Air Quality Advisor
100 - 401 Wellington Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5V 1E7

Cost Consultant
Davis Langdon
1717 Arch Street, Suite 3720
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States of America

Bridge Technical Advisor
625 Cochrane Drive, Suite 500
Markham, Ontario
L3R 9R9

Major Milestones
List of Major Milestone Date
1. Environmental assessment 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. United States 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. United States 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

Project Outcomes

The Project is designed to achieve the following substantive objectives:

  • Provide new border crossing capacity to meet increased long-term international trade and travel demand;
  • Improve system connectivity to enhance the continuous flow of people and goods;
  • Improve operations and processing capabilities at the border; and
  • Provide alternative and secure crossing options (i.e. network redundancy) to mitigate risks of any disruptions or blockages of crossing facilities in the region.

In pursuing the above objectives, the assessment and management of procurement options are to respect the following process objectives:

  • Provide a comprehensive and systematic approach to security, safety and emergency operations through the deployment of appropriate technology and processes;
  • Be consistent with Government of Canada’s divestiture policy of a comprehensive risk transfer to an arm’s length entity for financing, design, construction, and operation of the crossing; and
  • Be financially self-sustaining (for capital, operating and maintenance costs) to the maximum extent possible so that the new crossing minimizes the need for public funds.

Progress Report and Explanations of Variances

Work with our United States, Michigan and Ontario partners on the development of the new Windsor-Detroit bridge crossing significantly advanced with the approval of the environmental assessments in both countries, enabling the partnership to proceed with project procurement and construction. To support project implementation, Michigan issued a Request for Expressions of Interest and received significant positive responses from the private sector expressing interest in participating in a public-private partnership arrangement. As well, an investment grade traffic and revenue forecast was undertaken that concluded there was sufficient traffic to support a new crossing as truck volumes are expected to triple and vehicle volumes to double over the next thirty years. Transport Canada also commenced property acquisition with willing sellers and concluded an agreement with the City of Windsor totaling $34 million that encompasses the majority of the properties needed for construction of the border inspection plaza and bridge. Transport Canada continues to acquire property on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis.

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 United States bi-lateral trade crosses our shared border by land. Each day, almost 36,000 trucks cross the Canada-United States 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 United States 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 Gross Domestic Product will be $1.6 billion. In addition, 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 Gross Domestic Product 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 United States 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 (Canadian dollars) 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