Governor tours proposed site of public span, touts benefits
Paul Egan / Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Detroit — Gov. Rick Snyder promised a new bridge across the Detroit River would bring jobs and other benefits to southwest Detroit as he toured the Delray area Tuesday.
Snyder continued to push his plans for the New International Trade Crossing to Canada in the face of opposition from many Republican lawmakers and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun.
If a public authority to oversee the bridge project is approved by the Legislature in a vote expected this fall, a “community benefits” package for residents and businesses in Delray, where the new bridge would be, is supposed to be part of the deal.
“It’s about keeping our kids here and having a good quality of life,” Snyder said during a break in the tour to talk to the media.
“We can create more and better jobs for Detroit as part of this.”
The bridge is to be publicly owned but privately built and operated. Canada has offered to front Michigan $550 million to cover the state’s share of the nearly $4 billion project. Moroun has said he wants to use private money to build a second bridge beside the Ambassador. GOP lawmakers also prefer a privately-funded approach.
Sharon Castellanos, who lives in Delray with her three young children, said she supports the public bridge as long as the project includes improvements for her family.
“We’re going to be right under it,” she said. “We’d like to see green space and no more abandoned buildings,” and “we’d like to see a store.”
State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who was part of the tour, said she wants improved air quality to also be part of the package, the details and value of which are still to be negotiated.
Moroun and his family have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to state politicians over the past two years and gave at least another $55,500 to political action committees associated with state lawmakers over the past three months, according to reports filed Monday with the secretary of state.
It isn’t known how much the Moroun family has given to politicians’ campaign committees this year, because those reports are not due until early next year.
Earlier Tuesday, Snyder spoke at Henry Ford Museum of the debt owed to U.S. troops.
“Each and every day we need to take the opportunity to say, ‘Thank you,'” he said as the Spirit of Liberty Foundation’s “Crossing of America” tour stopped in Dearborn to raise money and support for soldiers and their families.