Nation

Bridge to Canada gets US approval

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan won approval Friday to build a second bridge between Detroit and Canada, a key step needed to start construction on the $3.5 billion government project to relieve congestion and speed up trade at the busiest border crossing between the two countries.

A permit awarded by the State Department allows Michigan and Canada to move forward with the span over the Detroit River. Construction could start in 2015 or 2016 and be finished by 2020, though lawsuits challenging the project have been filed by the owners of the 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge, currently the lone bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

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The presidential permit — a requirement for all US border crossing projects with other countries — comes 10 months after Governor Rick Snyder and Prime Minister Stephen Harper struck a deal calling for Canada to pay for the bridge, and five months after Michigan voters rejected an Ambassador Bridge owners’ attempt to slow or halt construction.

The State Department said that the New ­International Trade Crossing will “serve the national interest.”

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