Detroit – US Senator Gary Peters of Michigan and Chris Magnus, commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, detailed plans for a new customs plaza and security improvements on Friday as a second international bridge is erected between Detroit and Windsor.
The new customs plaza for the Gordie Howe International Bridge, slated to be located off Jefferson Avenue in southwest Detroit, should be large enough to accommodate more than 100 football fields, Peters said. It should also have more advanced screening technology than the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Peters and Magnus said.
“People will realize that when this opens it will be a model for ports across the country in the future,” said Peters, of D-Bloomfield Township.
The bridge towers, which have been under construction since 2019, are expected to be completed by the end of this year and span 262 feet.
Peters said additional personnel and equipment are needed to secure ports of entry on the northern border and maintain Michigan’s status as an international trade hub. The senator said he helped secure more than $90 million for non-intrusive, sensor-based inspection systems to monitor goods crossing and $3.8 billion to help CBP upgrade facilities border.
Peters secured the first federal funding, $15 million, for the Gordie Howe Bridge inspection and screening systems, in 2019. He filed legislation requiring CBP to hire 600 additional officers a year until agency staffing needs are met.
“We know that when this bridge opens and the facility is operational, they will immediately have the best high-end security systems in place,” said Peters, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Peters hosted Magnus as they toured the construction site of the Gordie Howe Bridge which is expected to open in 2024. When completed, the bridge will join the Ambassador Bridge to serve the second busiest border crossing in the country.
“If Michigan were a country, we would be Canada’s second largest trading partner and that’s what keeps us going and it’s a critical project for the future of our state,” Peters said.
The harbor entrance at Ambassador Bridge also has X-ray vehicle projections, Michigan native Magnus said. But “the complexity of what’s being done (in Gordie Howe) is more complicated,” he said, but he wouldn’t share more details. “This technology uses biometrics which continues to evolve and expand.”
Modifying entry ports on older bridges is a challenge, Magnus said, adding that space is limited and most were not designed for the advanced technology that is being implemented, including screenings. truck x-rays, license plate readers and electronic manifests.
“It’s great to have a facility designed to be operational in this way from day one. And we will have greater capacity as technology continues to evolve to be able to accommodate advancements,” Magnus said. about Gordie Howe’s litter.
Peters said he’s committed to funding security improvements through the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package passed this year “so that we can achieve state-of-the-art screening at all of our facilities across the countries, but it will take time”.