Michigan Governor, Canadians to announce agreement for new bridge
By Peter Samuel
Local reports are that the Canadian Cabinet will give its approval Wednesday to a special agreement with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to allow construction of a new toll bridge between Detroit and Windsor about two miles downstream of the Ambassador Bridge. The agreement would allow the bridge, known as NITC or New International Trade Crossing, to proceed despite opposition from the state legislature, which has consistently barred any expenditure on even planning the new bridge.
Reports are the Governor plans to use an obscure power under the state constitution to enter into "Interlocal" agreements with neighboring governments independent of the legislature. He might also be able to tap the Michigan Strategic Fund, whose allocations of money are independent of the legislature.
Canadian taxpayers are putting up close to $2 billion for interchanges, approach roads and inspection/service plazas on the Michigan as well as the Canadian side of the river. Some kind of toll concession is described as proposed for the bridge proper though it is unclear traffic levels will be sufficient to attract private investment without government guarantees.
Gov Snyder has repeatedly made assurances that Michigan taxpayers will not be "on the hook" for the project, but opinion surveys suggest this is not believed by the public which is two to one against state involvement.
An average 45,000 vehicles per day traveling between Michigan and Ontario Canada are presently spread between the Ambassador Bridge (4 lanes), the Detroit Windsor Tunnel (2 lanes) and the Blue Water Bridge (6 lanes).
Delays at the border are usually attributed to border clearance inspections. But the Ambassador Bridge is old, its owners the Moroun family are vilified in the media accused of a 'monopoly', and a splashy new bridge attracts some political support