BY STEVE NEAVLING
DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today called the Ambassador Bridge “the worst bottle neck in the entire Pan-American freeway system” and pledged a new span would create thousands of jobs and increase trade between the U.S. and Canada.
Calley and Gov. Rick Snyder told the Detroit City Council that the bridge plan, known as the New International Trade Crossing, would free up passenger and commercial traffic and create jobs for Detroiters as state leaders drum up support for the bridge.
“You could go from Montreal to Mexico without hitting a stop light, but you can’t go from I-75 to 401 in Canada without hitting 18 or 19 of them,” Calley said. “Freeway-to-freeway connection is absolutely essential for efficient trade, and therefore, job creation.”
State and Canadian officials predict that traffic on the bridge will double or triple within the next three decades as trade increases between the two countries.
“We are limiting the growth because (truckers) can’t get their products to the markets because of the current situation,” Snyder said. “We need to remove that barrier to growth.”
The plan is opposed by officials at the privately owned Ambassador Bridge, who say they want to build a new span without risks to taxpayers.
Ambassador officials were invited to the meeting, but couldn’t make it, council members said.
While state and Canadian officials made their case for a new bridge, council members sought assurance that Detroiters will receive construction jobs if a new span is built.
“There is nothing more important to the city of Detroit than creating jobs,” Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown said. “My biggest concern is that projects of this nature in the past have used federal regulations to hide behind not being able to create jobs in the community.”
Many in attendance applauded