Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne put his support behind the proposed Detroit River International Crossing bridge project last week, highlighting the importance the project would have for the company’s automotive shipments across the Detroit-Windsor border, which number 1,300 a day.
The project, which has been approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, now awaits action by the Republican State Senate if its first year of operation is to be met in 2016.
Speaking at the 2010 Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference last Thursday, Marchionne recognised the significance of the automotive sector as a powerful driver of the economy, including its ability to attract distribution and service networks. He also recognised the role of government as “a major catalyst enhancing the ability of companies to change” and focussed on the DRIC project as a prime example affecting both.
As part of the wider automotive industry, which makes thousands of cross-border truck shipments across the border, accounting for well over $100m in goods, Chrysler itself moves 2,000 cars and trucks a day between Detroit and Windsor and makes 1,600 entries at the Detroit-Windsor border.
“Smooth crossing is essential to our just-in-time manufacturing enterprise,” said Marchionne. “For example, engines made in Trenton or stampings from Warren or Sterling Heights cross the border daily for use at assembly plants in Ontario.
“I want to make it clear that Chrysler strongly supports the proposed DRIC…[.]
The need for an additional crossing to handle current and future trade flows is widely acknowledged and it is imperative that this new crossing be completed as soon as possible,” he added.
It is estimated that the project will generate nearly $60m in tolls in it is first year of operation with revenue rising to $108.5m by 2035. Combined car and truck traffic would rise from 18,700 vehicles a day to 34,600 by that time according to projections from Tom Shields, a Lansing-based PR representative with close association to the project, though the figures are subject to intense disagreement, according to the Detroit Free Press, and there is debate over whether a proposed second span is legal.