Meetings and Events

The Canada-U.S.-Ontario-Michigan Border Transportation Partnership consists of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The Partnership has retained a consultant team with expertise in a variety of areas, including transportation planning, environmental approval processes and public consultation to conduct a Bi-National Planning/Need and Feasibility Study. The purpose of this study is to identify a 30-year transportation strategy to provide for the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services between Southeast Michigan and Southwest Ontario. The study is the first stage of the environmental approval processes in the United States and Canada.

A bridge and tunnel connect the two nations in the downtown areas of Windsor and Detroit. The Ambassador Bridge is a four-lane suspension bridge which has been a landmark on the Detroit River since its opening in 1929. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which opened in 1930, is a two-lane facility. These facilities serve as the strategic roadway links on a vital trade corridor, which also is served by rail and ferry services.

Canada and the United States share the largest trading relationship in the world. Currently, $146 billion (USD) in surface trade passes between Southwestern Ontario and Southeastern Michigan annually. Approximately 55% of the value of this trade crosses the Detroit River by truck. By 2030, the value of surface trade is expected to increase to nearly $240 billion (USD). This trade benefits the local, regional and national economies. Regionally, the Windsor and Detroit areas share a strong economic bond. Cross-border employment, shopping and recreational opportunities are major benefits for businesses and residents on both sides of the river.

Border processing agencies in the U.S. and Canada are adapting new procedures and programs such as NEXUS and FAST to improve screening at the border and reduce delays for low-risk traffic. However, the movement of people and goods on the trade routes is subject to delays and disruption due to major traffic incidents, roadway and crossing maintenance operations and security concerns. The impacts to the local, regional and national economies of Canada and the United States – as well as other impacts to the border communities – must be addressed. Free flows on the international trade corridors and local access within major metropolitan areas are dependent on efficient border crossings.

Increasing traffic through the Windsor-Detroit border crossings also presents transportation challenges across the river due to the limited capacity of the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Optimizing use of the existing roadway network and improving rail, transit and ferry services can provide some relief, but would not fully address the need for additional roadway capacity. A new or improved river crossing, with new or improved road connections to the interstate and provincial freeway systems is required. A potential strategy for improvements to border processing, rail, transit and marine services also has been identified.

Five corridors for a new or improved border crossing and connecting roadways were identified in the Windsor/Essex County-Detroit/Wayne County area. These corridors were reviewed in terms of their ability to address:

  • Traffic problems and opportunities;
  • The needs of border processing agencies;
  • Government, planning and tourism objectives;
  • Potential impacts to natural, social and cultural features; and
  • Technical issues.

This review suggests that the corridors have varying degrees of feasibility but all the alternatives represent a reasonable approach.

The Partnership is moving forward with initiation of the formal
environmental approval processes on both sides of the border, namely, the
U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Act (CEAA) and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA).
Moving forward in this way will allow for decision-making to be conducted under a full and open public process.

The next steps in the process will be carried out in consultation with
stakeholders and community groups. These steps include:

  • Satisfying environmental assessment requirements of all four partners;
  • Developing the framework for conducting the next stage in the
    NEPA/CEAA/OEAA process.
  • Prepare a Terms of Reference for an Individual Environmental Assessment
    in accordance with OEAA.

The Partnership will continue looking for ways to accelerate the planning activities, without compromising opportunities for consultation or the environmental approval processes in the United States or Canada.

Provide comments to the Project Team by completing and submitting the on-line form or by calling the project’s toll-free phone number at 1-800-900-2649. Click here for the Project Office mailing address.

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