The University of Toledo University Transportation Center

UTUTC-IU-9: Developing and Testing a Framework for Alternate Ownership, Tenure and Governance Strategies for the Proposed Detroit-Windsor River Crossing -  Phase II

Focus Area: Infrastructure Utilization

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Snehamay Khasnabis, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and
Associate Dean for Research
College of Engineering
Wayne State University


Project Dates: 08/01/2008 – 07/31/2009--no cost exstension 03/31/2010

Project Year: Year 3

UT-UTC Designation: UTUTC-IU-9

The United States and Canada share the largest trading relationship in the world, and currently account for approximately $200 billion of annual surface trade between Southwestern Ontario and Southeastern Michigan. This figure is expected to reach $300 billion by the year 2030. The Central Business Districts of the cities of Detroit and Windsor are currently connected by a bridge and a tunnel, both built during the late 1920s, that constitute the vital trade corridor between the two countries. The Ambassador Bridge (a four lane facility) is privately owned and operated, while the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is a two-lane facility jointly owned by the two cities and operated by a private corporation.

During the last few years, a number of studies have been undertaken by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to investigate the need, location and type of a proposed third river crossing connecting the cities of Detroit and Windsor. These studies appear to indicate a strong need for such a river crossing, even though its exact location, access and type (tunnel, bridge, etc) are yet to be determined. Nor has any decision been made on the Ownership, Tenure and Governance (OTG) of the proposed crossing.

The purpose of this study is to develop an analytic framework that can be used to test alternative OTG scenarios for the proposed river crossing, including public, private and various joint ownership scenarios. The proposed framework will, among other things, incorporate the concept of “investment decision under uncertainty.” The estimates of the project costs and benefits (particularly those beyond the immediate future) are likely to be characterized by significant variances. The risks and uncertainties associated with these estimates will be incorporated in the proposed framework. The framework developed will be tested with data that may be available from different published reports and from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The project is to be conducted in two phases. Phase I, which is currently nearing completion, is directed towards identifying different OTG strategies and developing a preliminary framework for analyzing different OTG strategies. Phase II (for which funding is being sought in this proposal) will be devoted to a more detailed testing of the framework with demographic, travel, toll an cost data relative to the local area and the bridge. This will be followed up with further “fine-tuning” the framework that may be deemed necessary following the testing. 


UT-UTC Grant
Match Amount
Total Project
$ 41,010
$ 41,090
$ 82,100
Final Reports:

PDF Symbol Final Report



Last Updated: 6/9/16