Senate panel seeks auto input on new bridge

Paul Egan / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — A Senate committee considering legislation to create a public authority to oversee a new Detroit River bridge will likely continue its deliberations until Oct. 26, its chairman said Wednesday.

Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, said his committee has heard the “30,000-foot viewpoint” on the proposed public bridge over the last several meetings and he now wants to tackle specific issues in detail.

Next Wednesday, Kowall said he wants to hear from automakers, who support a new public span.

Subsequent meetings will tackle community benefits for the west side Detroit neighborhood that would host the bridge; financial impacts and costs; traffic projections; and legal issues, Kowall said. A vote to send the bridge bills to the Senate floor would happen at a subsequent meeting.

Gov. Rick Snyder has said he wants the Legislature to vote on the bridge authority before the end of October.

On Wednesday, the seven-member committee heard from Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, one of the main bridge backers.

Williams, testifying on behalf of a coalition he said represents more than 20,000 businesses, said they need “a safe, reliable and efficient way to get their product to market.”

Businesses need a freeway-to-freeway connection between Ontario and Michigan, he said. That’s what’s proposed by the New International Trade Crossing two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge.

The owners of the Ambassador, the Moroun family, oppose the public span because they plan to build a second bridge.