Spanning across the Detroit River just over a mile long between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, the eighty-one years old Ambassador Bridge is the busiest commercial border crossing in North America. It's also falling apart.
In its current state the bridge can't keep up with the nine million vehicle crossings a year. City planners on both sides of the border have long wanted an upgrade, and two months ago, Canada made a great offer: It will loan Michigan $550 million to fund construction of a second bridge two miles downriver. The project has an estimated total cost of around $2.6 billion.
Here's the problem though, the owner doesn't want to do that. The bridge is privately owned by an 83-year-old billionaire named Manual Moroun. He wants to build an adjacent bridge, meaning there will not be a bridge in a separate location, creating a security risk and problems if nearby roads need to close. However, it would be mostly funded by Mr. Mouroun, which would be a huge relief to taxpayers.
And here's the business impact. Around $1 billion in goods a day cross the border, and many businesses and automakers rely on parts deliveries and transferring goods easily across the border. There is already over-capacity and lack of choices for companies crossing the border, and building a new bridge is a must. The bridge could possibly bring in as much as $240 million a year by 2035.
There is currently a huge battle ensuing within Michigan on whether to go ahead with the public plan or allow Manual Moroun to go ahead with his plan. The only certainty is that this bridge must be built to ensure that one of the most important trade routes for the United States and Canada isn't cut off. Just to get a grasp of how important this project is, I'll leave you with this quote. Canadian Minister of Transport John Baird recently said in an interview with CNN, "This is the most important public infrastructure project in the country. It's essential to the economic well being of both countries."