Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled a plan Friday to build a new bridge linking Detroit to the Canadian town of Windsor, promising jobs and prosperity for both nations.
The entire project -- which includes the bridge, Canadian and US inspection plazas, an interchange with US Interstate-75, and the Windsor-Essex Parkway connecting Canada's Highway 401 to the bridge -- is expected to take four to five years to construct and cost between $3.5 and $4 billion.
It is the third announcement in the past decade of a new span at the crossing. Previous proposals fell apart over a lack of funding and objections it would compete with an existing bridge for toll traffic.
The project this time will be entirely funded by Canada, the provincial government of Ontario and Canadian private interests, and is expected to ease border congestion and expedite shipping across North America's busiest border crossing.
Harper, in Windsor to announce the deal, said $120 billion worth of business crossed the Detroit River last year alone.
More than 28,000 trucks reportedly cross the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge on a daily basis.
"In a nutshell, the new bridge, the second across the Detroit River, is an investment in the future, the future of the north American economy, of North American trade and of North American manufacturing. It is a sign of our determination to move forward, during a difficult time in the global economy," Harper said.
On Thursday, a study by the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research estimated that 12,000 jobs would be created for each of the four to five years of construction and more than 8,000 permanent jobs in southeast Michigan once the bridge is operational.
Several thousand jobs are expected to be created on the Canadian side as well, officials have predicted.
According to the agreement, a Canadian entity will handle the design, construction and operation of the bridge. Ottawa is to make annual "availability payments" for the building, operation and maintenance.
No tolls will be charged in Michigan for use of the bridge, but vehicles on the Canadian side will be charged to reimburse the Canadian government for the cost of the project.
The two countries share the world's largest bilateral trading relationship. In 2010, bilateral trade was close to $645 billion, with more than $1.7 billion worth of goods and services crossing the Canada-US border every day.