Building International bridges up to voters



GENESEE COUNTY — Building a new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Canada is at stake for voters to decide in a Nov. 6 statewide ballot proposal.

If voters approve, state proposal 6 would amend the State Constitution regarding any new construction of international bridges and tunnels.

It would require approval of a majority of voters, in a statewide election, before the State of Michigan could spend state funds or resources to acquire land, design and solicit bids for the constructing, financing or promoting of new international bridges or tunnels.

It would also create a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles,” meaning any bridge not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 2012, according to ballot language.

The proposal reportedly stems from a conflict between Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Manuel (Matty) Moroun, owner of the existing 83- year-old Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

Snyder is backing the building of the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), a bridge proposed for construction about two miles away from the Ambassador Bridge for which the state reportedly has acquired federal funds and financial assistance from Canada and others to build at no cost to Michigan taxpayers.

An estimated 10,000 construction jobs would be created by the bridge which has been approved by both governments to ease border traffic backups and create a direct connection between Michigan and Canadian highways.

Proposal 6 has been characterized by Gov. Rick Snyder, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce as an effort by the Moroun family to avoid competition for the Ambassador Bridge.

Maroun has mounted a multimillion dollar campaign to block the building of the second bridge. He is the largest contributor on record to the People Should Decide which is the group spearheading the campaign supporting passage of Proposal 6. Among their arguments is that the bridge will ultimately cost Michigan taxpayers money and is not needed.

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