2 September 2009
SAULT STE. MARIE, ONTARIO
Travelers who rely on the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge will be able to count on reduced traffic congestion and improved border security thanks to a major expansion and redevelopment of the bridge’s Canadian Customs Plaza, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today.
“Our government believes that Sault Ste. Marie holds tremendous potential as a centre of expanding trade and commerce between Canada and the United States,” said the Prime Minister who was joined by Minister of Transport John Baird and Sault Ste. Marie Mayor John Rowswell. “This construction project will create jobs in Sault Ste. Marie right away. When completed, the new plaza will give the Canada Border Services Agency the facilities they need to keep Canadians safe and to keep travel and trade moving. This is the right move for Canada and the right move for families and businesses in Sault Ste. Marie”
The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, which connects Ontario and Michigan, is a vital corridor for the region’s trade and tourism and is crucial to Northern Ontario’s economy. Approximately $1.8 billion in trade crosses the border here each year, 70 per cent of which are Canadian exports to the United States. It is also Canada’s tenth-busiest passenger crossing; in 2008 it handled over 1.5 million passenger vehicles.
The Sault Bridge project includes the expansion and redesigning of the existing Canadian Port of Entry located within the bridge’s Customs Plaza. The project will include the construction of new commercial and travelers’ examination facilities and a new inspection lane for buses. The project will also include new facilities designed to take advantage of the NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) frequent traveler programs. The project is due to begin in the fall of 2009 and be completed by 2014. Work on the Plaza will be timed to minimize disruptions of existing bridge traffic.
Federal funding for the expansion and redevelopment of the Canadian Customs Plaza is conditional on the project’s meeting all applicable federal eligibility requirements under the Gateways and Border Crossings Fund and adherence to all other federal requirements.