Canada: Mega Bridge P3 – The Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC)/New International Trade Crossing (NITC)

It is estimated a quarter of all Canadian trade to the US passes through the Windsor-Detroit border. To facilitate travel and create sufficient capacity for future trade at this, Canada's busiest commercial border crossing, a new bridge will be built to link Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan.*

The procurement process is gearing up with the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority preparing to issue a request for qualifications in 2014, and the Canadian government announcing in its most recent budget that it will be providing C$631 million over the next two years on a cash basis to advance the construction of the project.

As this project will likely be of great interest to proponents with both Canadian and US capabilities, this briefing will summarize the project's main components, explain the regulatory approvals in place, and highlight issues worthy of consideration as the project advances.

The four components of the project

The project involves the construction of four components: an international plaza on the Canadian side; an 850-metre suspension or cable-stayed international bridge; an international plaza on the US side; and a direct connection from the US plaza to Interstate 75 (I-75). It is estimated the project will cost $US2.15 billion: $US1.3 billion related to assets to be built on the US side, and $US850 million to those on the Canadian side. Almost all government funding for the project is in place, with the only remaining unfunded expense being the international plaza on the US side, which carries an estimated cost of $US250 million.

The project's four components will be overseen by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, a Canadian Crown corporation created under the terms of the Canada-Michigan Crossing Agreement signed in June 2012.

Under the Crossing Agreement's terms, Canada will assume responsibility for the entire project, including the provision of an additional investment of up to $US550 million to cover costs that would normally have been incurred by Michigan for the project's US portion.

The public-private partnership

All four construction components will be undertaken as one project procured by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, which will approve both the procurement process and the final agreement.

The international plazas and the bridge will be constructed under a design-build-finance-operate-maintain framework. The concessionaire will not, however, be responsible for operating and maintaining the I-75 interchange. This responsibility will be retained by Michigan.

Construction risk will be assumed by the private sector with the Canadian federal government assuming all risk for traffic and toll revenue.

Performance payments will be made to private partners over an anticipated 30-year concession period, beginning upon completion of all four project components.

Permitting and approvals

Under US law, environmental impact statements are required for major federal actions that significantly affect the quality of the human environment. In early 2009, the Federal Highway Administration issued a Record of Decision for the project, thereby completing the final step in the environmental impact statement process.

All major permits required for the project have been granted, including two high-priority permits required in the US, namely the Presidential Permit and the Coast Guard Permit. The Presidential Permit, required for all construction and maintenance of facilities at the US border or connecting the US with a foreign country, was obtained in April 2013. US federal law also requires that the location and plans of bridges and causeways across navigable US waters be submitted to and approved by the commandant of the US Coast Guard (under a delegation from the Secretary of Transportation) prior to construction. The Coast Guard Permit was issued in June 2014.

Transport Canada has completed traffic forecasting, preliminary engineering and environmental assessments, which will be updated every two years. At-risk plant and animal species found at the Canadian plaza have been relocated, and bird and plant surveys have also been completed.

Canada has also proactively enacted the Bridge to Strengthen Trade Act, providing, in advance, all Canadian approvals necessary to construct the project, such as environmental, navigation and construction approvals.

Issues for consideration

Property acquisition

Transport Canada is working to acquire the remainder of properties in Canada for the Canadian inspection plaza, which is currently being designed with the Canada Border Services Agency. In February 2014, the Canadian government announced that much of a C$631 million budget allocation would be dedicated towards property acquisition required in Michigan. Some utility relocation in Canada has begun, and geotechnical studies, such as soil testing, are ongoing. The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority is currently recruiting management; once recruitment is complete, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority will obtain control of the project and the procurement process will begin.

Currency risk

The project is being procured in Canada, thus it is likely payments by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority will be made in Canadian dollars. The project's largest cost components are located in the US and consequently, currency risk may be a factor for potential proponents.

Buy America requirements

Under US federal law, a number of requirements must be met in order for expenditures on a project to be eligible as the "non-federal share" for federal aid matching purposes under the Federal Highway Administration's Federal Aid Highway Program.

The Crossing Agreement requires successful proponents to meet all these requirements. Further, under the Crossing Agreement, the "Buy America" provisions otherwise applicable under the Federal Highway Administration's Federal Aid Highway Program are replaced with a requirement that all iron and steel used in US elements of the project must be produced in the US and Canada. The Crossing Agreement further stipulates that there shall be no discrimination in favour of US or Canadian parties with respect to any products, materials, supplies, labour or services purchased under this requirement.

US tax-exempt bonds

In certain circumstances, US federal law allows state and local governments to finance projects using bonds the interest on which is excluded from gross income for federal income tax purposes. This allows state and local governments to finance eligible projects at reduced interest rates.

In general, so-called tax-exempt financing is available only for projects owned and operated by a state or local government. However, in limited circumstances, tax-exempt "private activity bonds" are authorized for projects that benefit private businesses. One such authorized project is a "qualified highway or surface freight transfer facility." Such a facility includes an international bridge or tunnel project for which an international entity authorized under US federal or state law is responsible, and that receives assistance under the US federal highway laws (title 23 of the United States Code). To utilize tax-exempt financing for such a project, a project beneficiary must apply for and receive an allocation of bond authority from the US Department of Transportation.

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice. We provide the world's pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have more than 3800 lawyers based in over 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Recognized for our industry focus, we are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of legal service in each of our offices and to maintain that level of quality at every point of contact.

Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright Australia, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa (incorporated as Deneys Reitz Inc) and Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, each of which is a separate legal entity, are members ('the Norton Rose Fulbright members') of Norton Rose Fulbright Verein, a Swiss Verein. Norton Rose Fulbright Verein helps coordinate the activities of the Norton Rose Fulbright members but does not itself provide legal services to clients.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.