Former U.S. roads boss hoping to raise $250 million


Former U.S. federal transportation boss Ray LaHood is trying to raise the required $250 million for a U.S. customs plaza for the $2.1-billion Detroit River bridge project.

LaHood, who retired in February 2013, now holds several roles in the private sector including with Caterpillar Inc. and as senior policy advisor for Washington law firm DLA Piper. He spent several years as the transportation secretary with the Obama administration.

“The bridge that goes from Windsor to Detroit, it is being paid for almost exclusively by the Canadian government,” LaHood said, according to Truck News.

“We worked as much as we could at DOT (Department of Transport) to make that happen. Canadians deserve all the credit. I’m working right now to see if we can find some money to build the customs facility that is needed.”

Canada has already budgeted $631 million over the next two years for the DRIC bridge project. Although Canada’s transport minister Lisa Raitt has repeatedly said Washington’s lack of commitment on funding will not delay construction, it’s clear America needs to do more.

“That project will put a lot of people to work from Detroit and from Canada and it will be a great bridge to continue the friendship. But our country needs to do a lot more,” LaHood said.

As of right now the goal is to have the bridge open for traffic by 2020.

Both Transport Canada and Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority claimed to have no knowledge of LaHood’s efforts to raise the $250 million.

“The Government of Canada continues discussions with U.S. authorities on the matter of funding of the U.S. plaza,” said Mike Cautillo, CEO for WDBA. “Construction of the new bridge will provide economic benefits both during construction and thereafter to communities on both sides of the border.”