Gordie Howe bridge project scores $15 million in federal funds

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

The first U.S. funding for customs and border protection for the Gordie Howe International Bridge was part of a $1.4 trillion spending package that President Donald Trump signed into law at the end of last year.

The package allocated $15 million for inspection and screening systems at the upcoming bridge, which will connect Windsor and Detroit and is expected to be completed in 2024.

The bridge is expected to cost $4.4 billion. Its target opening date is late 2024.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, pushed for the funding, which "will allow for faster, more effective examinations of cargo and passengers," according to a November letter Peters wrote to other lawmakers.

"These resources will go a long way to help bolster security along Michigan’s northern border and safeguard Michigan communities," said Peters, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Trump signed the $1.4 trillion spending package on Dec. 20.

Construction on the $4.4 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge project began in 2018.

Canada has agreed to cover Michigan's construction costs in exchange for future toll revenues.

Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder negotiated the deal with Canada after the GOP-controlled Legislature refused to support the new Detroit crossing, which will compete with the Ambassador Bridge — a bridge that's privately owned by the powerful Moroun family. The Democratic Obama administration also didn't provide funding for the Detroit customs plaza.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has helped facilitate the project and acquire land for it.

"We're very appreciative of Sen. Peters' support for the project," MDOT spokesman Jeff Cranson said Thursday.

The state Department of Transportation spent $85.8 million related to the Gordie Howe International Bridge project during Fiscal Year 2019, which ended Sept. 30, according to a report filed with the Legislature in November. MDOT received $87.5 million in reimbursements from the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority during the year.