Supplementary Table - Status Report on Transformational and Major Crown Projects

Detroit River International Crossing


The new Windsor-Detroit crossing will provide a much-needed and long-awaited alternative at the busiest Canada-U.S. commercial border crossing, facilitating the movement of people and goods. By providing the first-ever highway-to-highway connection at Detroit-Windsor and a customs footprint vastly larger and more modern than the existing plazas, the new bridge will reduce delays due to congestion and the significant costs associated with these delays.

The project consists of five components; a new international bridge 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 the Canadian bridge/plaza and Highway 401.

The project will create thousands of construction jobs and long-term employment opportunities on both sides of the border.  By providing additional transportation capability going forward, the new bridge will enhance the investment climate in one of North America’s largest manufacturing regions. 

The new Windsor-Detroit crossing is a top infrastructure priority for Canada.  Transport Canada is working with Ontario, the State of Michigan and with U.S. federal government departments to deliver this new crossing. On June 15, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced the Canada-Michigan Crossing Agreement which established the framework for Canada’s and Michigan’s roles and responsibilities for the construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the new bridge. On April 12, 2013 the U.S. Department of State issued a Presidential Permit to the State of Michigan for the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of a bridge linking Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario.  The Presidential Permit allows Canada and Michigan to move the project forward to its next steps which include further design work and property acquisition on the U.S. side.

A public-private partnership (P3) for the new crossing is being considered. Under this arrangement, the private sector would be responsible for the design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance of the new bridge.

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 trade and travel demand, both in terms of meeting capacity and providing flexibility to stream traffic on the crossing to improve border processing (e.g. dedicated Nexus/FAST lanes).

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. None of the bridge types considered will require 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) trade and 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 the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and will provide sufficient area for primary inspection lane booths, on-site secondary inspection of people and goods and animal and plant inspection facilities. 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 Water Street, Chappus Street, Ojibway Parkway and Broadway Street. The plaza includes: total plaza area of 120.1 acres (48.6 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 – Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway

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 including interchanges, grade separations, and the use of service roads. The connection includes a combination of below-grade, at-grade, and above-grade segments and eleven short-tunneled (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.

The Province of Ontario is responsible for the delivery of the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway, which will connect Highway 401 with the new border inspection plaza and bridge. The province concluded financial close of a concession agreement in December 2010 with a private sector consortium. Construction of the new highway commenced in 2011 and it is expected to be finished by April 2015.

The Government of Canada in Budget 2007 committed to fund up to 50 percent of eligible capital costs of the project and Budget 2011 capped the potential contribution at a maximum of $1 billion. It is expected that Transport Canada will conclude a contribution agreement with Ontario in 2013.

The Rationale for the Project:

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

  • Nearly 30% of total Canada-U.S. two-way surface 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 Canadian and U.S. companies ability to compete internationally.
  • Traffic is expected to increase over the next 30 years – truck traffic is expected to triple and passenger vehicle traffic to double.

Project Phase:

Environmental assessments were approved for the project on both sides of the border in 2009.  The Province of Ontario reached financial close in December 2010 with the private sector concessionaire that will construct the new highway connecting to the new bridge.  Construction work commenced in August, 2011. 

Sponsoring and Participating Departments and Agencies

Sponsoring Department Transport Canada
Contracting Authority Deloitte and Public Works and Government Services Canada
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:

CDM Smith (formally Wilbur Smith Associates)
9500 Arboretum, Suite 360, Austin, TX, U.S.A., 78759

Bridge Technical Advisor:

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

Geotechnical and Foundation Investigations:

Golder Associates Ltd.
309 Exeter Road, Unit #1, London, ON, N6L 1C1

U.S. Technical Advisory Services and Bridge Advisory Services:

26777 Central Park Boulevard, Suite 275
Southfield, Michigan 48076

Major Milestones

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. 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

10. Financial Close Reached for the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway

December 17, 2010

11. Commencement of construction to build Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway

August, 2011

12. Crossing Agreement Signed by Canada and Michigan

June 15, 2012

13. Establishment of the Windsor-Detroit Crossing Authority

October 9, 2012

14. U.S. Presidential Permit Signed

April 12, 2013

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 procurement options are to respect the following 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.

Overall Project Costs

The total project costs are valued at between $3.5 and $4 billion. The bridge itself is expected to cost approximately $1 billion and will be financed by the private sector concessionaire.  The related infrastructure such as the Canadian and U.S. border inspection plazas and the interchange to I-75 are expected to cost approximately $1.2 billion and will be funded by the Government of Canada and the U.S. federal government.  The Parkway, which is currently under construction and has been procured separately by the Province of Ontario. Canada will provide 50% of the eligible costs for the Parkway.

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 passenger vehicle volumes to double over the next thirty years. Transport Canada also commenced property acquisition with willing sellers and concluded an agreement with, amongst others, 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-seller basis.

Utility relocation continues to progress as studies are being conducted to determine the best approach to relocation. Additionally, geotechnical works have begun on the Canadian side which is a key step in the pre-construction phase.

The species at risk (three plant species; Dense Blazing Star and Willowleaf Aster and Tallgrass Prairie) have been transplanted off the plaza site, allowing for more advanced geotechnical and other site preparation related tasks to be completed.

Project Approvals

  • Approval and necessary authorities were provided in December 2006, to continue advancing the development of a new Detroit River crossing for the Windsor-Detroit Corridor.
  • The March 2007 Federal Budget supported the development of a new Detroit River Crossing for the Windsor-Detroit Corridor and provided $10 million over three years for this purpose.
  • The Detroit River International Crossing project has been identified as a Major Crown Project as the total value is beyond the $100 million threshold. The entire project cost for Canada was estimated at $2.01 billion.  Preliminary project approval to provide authorization to expend resources to fully define the Detroit River International Crossing Project was sought and granted in December 2007.
  • In 2008, TC received approval to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of properties in Windsor, Ontario, for the Canadian-half of the new international bridge and its Canadian customs plaza. 
  • In 2009, TC sought approval for expenditure authority for Phase I of land acquisition.
  • Budget 2010 provided $10 million to cover expenses related to moving the project from the planning to implementation phase.
  • In 2012, TC sought approval of amended preliminary project approval and expenditure authority for Phase II of land acquisition.
  • The March 2013 Federal Budget provided $25 million over three years for the operating costs of the development of a new Detroit River Crossing.

Property Acquisition

In June 2009, expenditure authority approvals were provided for Phase I implementation of the Detroit River Crossing Major Crown Project for the acquisition and implementation of infrastructure projects related to the first of two groups of properties, for the Canadian-half of the new international bridge and its Canadian customs plaza, at a substantive cost of $60.9 million inclusive of GST of $2.9 million.

In November, 2012, TC received expenditure authority for phase II, of land acquisition.  It is anticipated that TC will seek expenditure authority for the third and final phase of land acquisition in 2013-14.

To date, TC has acquired 80% of the properties it requires for the Canadian customs plaza. TC has acquired properties from all but one of the individual property owners and five industrial owners.

Although the original intent was to complete all the land acquisition and utility relocation in two phases, it will now be extended to three phases.  The primary reason for the need for a third phase is due to approval delays in the Michigan legislature and challenging negotiations with some industrial property owners.  The lack of progress on that front made it difficult to advance negotiations on a timely basis with some property owners and utility providers. Timely progress on interconnected elements such as site preparation, utility relocation and the construction of a new perimeter access road also suffered. This said, the signing of the Crossing Agreement in June 2012 has now focused all the parties involved and TC continues to negotiate with the remaining property owners to acquire the needed land as expeditiously as possible. 

Project Progress

In 2009, the project received the requisite environmental approvals in both countries. In 2012, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to expedite the Detroit River International Crossing project.  The legislation, known as the Bridge to Strengthen Trade Act, came into force on December 14, 2012, to ensure the successful and timely construction of the new bridge between Windsor and Detroit.

A crossing agreement was signed on June 15, 2012, that allows Canada and Michigan to move the project forward to its next steps which include further design work and property acquisition on the U.S. side.  Due to Michigan’s financial situation, Canada has committed to cover the costs for project components in Michigan that would not be funded by the private sector or the United States Government.  The Government of Canada’s investment will be repaid from toll revenues to be generated from the operation of the new bridge.

Industrial Benefits

The investment in new border infrastructure will result in a number of positive economic impacts. 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, almost one quarter (more than 8,000 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.


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. Over the next 30 years, trade between Canada and the United States is projected to increase.

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 and 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 trade and travel demand and security requirements at the border crossing. The plazas will be designed to serve future (2035 and beyond) trade and 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.

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