Lawmakers urge customs plaza funding in Port Huron

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Three members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are again appealing to the Obama administration to give higher priority to funding an expanded customs plaza at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron in the next federal budget.

The Blue Water Bridge, which links Port Huron with Sarnia, Ontario, has awaited a delayed $165 million construction project for several years.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township; and Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, wrote Thursday to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, urging the “strongest possible funding” for the facility construction account at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“The Blue Water Bridge is the United States’ third-busiest land crossing in terms of value of shipments,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Focused investment in modern infrastructure and technology at our busiest land ports of entry, such as the Blue Water Bridge, is essential to our economic well-being and security.”

Miller thought she had a commitment from the administration to fund the customs plaza in her district four to five years ago.

The letter explains that delaying the expansion of the customs plaza “continues to create hardship by impacting the tax bases in Saint Clair County and Port Huron.” More than 100 properties were demolished to prepare the expansion, but the land sits vacant.

In February, Canada agreed to fund construction of a customs plaza for a planned Detroit River crossing after the Obama administration refused to fund it.

Johnson said at a Senate hearing in April that the administration wants to fund the plaza in Port Huron. It also plans to pay for stationing new personnel when the Detroit bridge opens in 2020 or later.

“Ultimately I do want to get to the Blue Water Bridge, and that’s something we ought to take a look at, perhaps in next year’s budget,” Johnson said.

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