Snyder pushes for public bridge at trade meeting

Paul Egan / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

East Lansing— Gov. Rick Snyder made another pitch for a public bridge to Canada in a Tuesday morning speech to a trade and transportation meeting.

“I encourage you all to contact your senators and remind them of that priority,” Snyder said at the Great Lakes International Trade and Transport Hub Summit at the Kellogg Center.

Bills pushed by Snyder to create a public authority to call for bids on a new bridge across the Detroit River are stalled in a Senate committee. Snyder is expected to meet Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, who backs the bridge, to discuss strategy on getting the bills through the Legislature.

The bridge is supported by all major business and labor groups in Michigan but opposed by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun and many Republican lawmakers who question the need for a new span and whether it should instead be built by the private sector.

Snyder told those at the summit the bridge would be privately financed, built and run and would increase competition.

“I don’t think there’s any good reason not to support the bridge proposal,” he said.

“This is something that is clearly in the best interests of the citizens of Michigan because it’s about international job creation,” and construction jobs in the short term.

“Unfortunately, there is really just one special interest that has another bridge that’s against their financial interest, and they’re spending a tremendous amount of money on misinformation, and it’s having an impact.”

Moroun has spent millions on TV ads and lobbying against the new bridge. He said he wants to use private funds to build a new span beside his existing 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge.

After his speech, the governor told reporters he meets regularly with legislative leaders and his meeting Tuesday with Richardville is “not just a bridge meeting.”

“We’re in continuing dialogue with many legislators on the best way to move this bridge ahead,” he said.

Snyder on Monday named a transportation task force to examine transit issues in southeast Michigan. He is expected to deliver a special message on transportation and other infrastructure needs next week.

The summit, hosted by Michigan State University, Canada’s Dalhousie University and the Prima Civitas Foundation, is intended to develop action plans for increasing trade and development in the Great Lakes region and address shared goals between the United States and Canada.