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Updated: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:16:22 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Lisa Raitt, Rick Snyder to make 'important' DRIC announcement today



Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Canada's Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are in Windsor, Ont., today and expected to announce the formation of a U.S.-Canadian panel that will oversee plans for a new bridge between Detroit and the southwestern Ontario city.

The minister's office says the duo "will make an important announcement regarding the Detroit River International Crossing."

A new $1-billion CAN bridge linking west Windsor and the Delray community of west Detroit has been agreed upon and is in the works.

A source close to the project tells CBC Windsor that a governance committee, comprised of three Canadian and three U.S. members, will be named Wednesday.

The members will be high-profile names, the source assured.

“That’s the speculation right now, that it’s the governance structure that will be looked at, and maybe an appointment process,” said Windsor West NDP MP and border critic Brian Masse. “That has to be the next step necessary for land acquisition to take place [in the U.S.].”

Bill Anderson, director of the Cross-Border Institute in Windsor, says the head of the committee should be a Canadian.

"It's certainly important that the person be Canadian because Canadian taxpayers are fronting the money for this thing," he said. "They're paying for a lot of it. It's a huge project. It's very important to the Canadian economy, and the Canadian government has really pushed this project for years. Now, they want to get the thing done right and done on time."

The Canadian government has already agreed to finance the construction of the bridge, which would open in 2020.

The total cost of the project would be about $4 billion CAN, including work on freeway interchanges, customs plazas in both countries and infrastructure work.

The final permit was issued last month after a U.S. court rejected a request for an injunction filed by the private company that owns the existing Ambassador Bridge.

Land still needed

The next step involves securing funding for a U.S. customs facility, along with acquiring land on the American side.

A proposal to transfer 301 Detroit-owned properties to the Michigan Land Bank in exchange for $1.4 million from the Canadian government as part of plans for the crossing was delayed Monday.

A special Detroit City Council session was scheduled Monday morning. However, the Detroit Free Press reports, that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's office has agreed to delay consideration of such an agreement until September.

Sources tell The Canadian Press the panel is expected to try to move the project forward, but the proposed New International Trade Crossing will still need $250 million in U.S. funding to build a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection plaza in Detroit.

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