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Mar.09, 2015

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SURFACE & DOMESTIC TRANSPORTATION TRUCKING | RAIL | INTERMODAL | AIR & EXPEDITED | DISTRIBUTION THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 99 By William B. Cassidy THE UNITED STATES and Canada took a big step toward relieving a cross-border chokepoint and providing more actual capacity for shippers moving goods into the U.S. in February when they agreed on how to finance a key part of a long-delayed second bridge across the Detroit River, linking Michigan's Motor City, Detroit, and Windsor, Ontario. Under the agreement, a Canadian- led public-private partnership will build a $250 million toll plaza on the U.S. side of the international crossing and will have a con- cession to collect tolls, paying for the plaza. The $2.1 billion bridge is already set to be built entirely with Canadian funds. When completed in 2020, the bridge will relieve congestion at one of the largest border crossing points in the world and the largest U.S. border crossing after Laredo, Texas. Truck traffic currently must cross the Detroit Ambassador Bridge, a privately owned span. The new international span also will provide more actual infrastructure capac- ity for shippers moving goods into the U.S., whether from Canada or overseas, a critical need as seaports become more congested and larger ships head for North America. The owners of the Ambassador bridge, the Maroun family, have opposed plans for a second span other than one they would like to build alongside their 86-year-old bridge, which is handling a growing amount of truck traffic as the stronger U.S. economy is stimulating more trade between the North American neighbors. The number of trucks crossing the U.S.- Canadian border at Detroit rose 1.4 percent last year to 1,554,152, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, an uptick in freight traffic spurred by higher U.S. manufacturing output and strong auto- motive demand. The number of truck crossings at Detroit dropped 0.5 percent in 2013, when the U.S. economy grew more slowly. Last year's stronger U.S. economic growth, a 2.4 percent increase in real gross domestic product from 2013, restarted cross-border truck engines. Trucks crossing at Detroit-Windsor account for 27 percent of total U.S.-Can- ada truck traffic, according to BTS data. Total U.S.-Canada truck crossings climbed 2.7 percent to 5.8 million in 2014, an increase of nearly 800,000 trucks from 2009 and higher than a preliminary JOC estimate. U.S.-Canada trade in goods rose 3.7 per- cent in 2014 to $658.1 billion, a 52.7 percent leap from the end of the recession in 2009, when trade in goods totaled $430.9 billion. U.S. imports from Canada rose 4.1 percent to $346.1 billion, U.S. Census Bureau data show. That freight increasingly includes inter- national containerized goods routed to the U.S. through Canada, a trend that may be accelerated by the congestion and delays shippers and importers are experiencing at U.S. West Coast ports because of the contro- versial nine-month contract negotiations, and the slowdowns that came with them, between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association. "A new Windsor-Detroit crossing remains one of Canada's top infrastructure priorities," Canadian Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt said in a Feb. 18 statement. Canada, she said, is committed to completing the new crossing" and to doing so "as soon as possible." Although U.S. shippers and importers have been focusing on container shipping delays at U.S. seaports over the past year, especially during the West Coast longshore labor dispute, delays are endemic at land border crossings as well, both from Mexico and Canada. That's partly an infrastructure problem. BUILDING BRIDGES A Canadian-led public-private partnership will help fund the new span connecting Detroit to Ontario

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