Snyder: New Detroit-Canada bridge needed

June 2, 2011 at 5:57 PM
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MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich., June 2 (UPI) -- A publicly owned Detroit-to-Canada bridge will create badly needed jobs and spur trade between top trading partners, Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said.

"I am really fired up. It is time to build the bridge," Snyder said, flanked by business leaders, the Canadian consulate general and representatives of the Teamsters and Electrical Workers unions.

The proposed Detroit River International Crossing, or New International Trade Crossing, would span the Detroit River, connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, by linking Interstate 75 and Interstate 94 in Michigan with a new Windsor-Essex Parkway connection to Highway 401 in Ontario, the Detroit News said.

This route would provide uninterrupted traffic flow, in contrast with the nearby Ambassador Bridge, which connects to city streets on the Canadian side.

Ambassador Bridge owner billionaire Manuel "Matty" Moroun, whose Detroit International Bridge Co. holds a monopoly on commercial truck traffic, calls the new bridge an unneeded public-works program that would lose $4.7 billion between 2016 and 2035.

Bridge backers call Moroun's figures "bogus and irrelevant," The Detroit News reported.

"To suggest that the state of Michigan will lose billions of dollars when the state has no costs and no risks associated with the financing, building or operating of the NITC is ridiculous and smells like someone is cooking up numbers," pro-bridge spokesman Tom Shields told the newspaper.

The bridge authorization requires a Michigan authority to oversee private construction of the bridge and says no Michigan taxpayer money can be used to pay for it. In addition, the state can assume no debt as a result of its construction, the authorization says.

Snyder said, "I'm not anti-Ambassador Bridge, I'm pro-international trade," the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Ambassador Bridge is North America's busiest international border crossing in trade volume. Some 150,000 jobs and $13 billion in annual production depend on the crossing, a 2004 Border Transportation Partnership study indicated.

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