Snyder: Detroit-Windsor bridge to be built in ‘months, not years’

By Andrew Mayeda
Bloomberg News

A new bridge to connect Detroit with Windsor at the busiest crossing along the Canada-U.S. border will be built in a matter of “months, not years,” Gov. Rick Snyder said.

“We are continuing our process in a relentless fashion, and you should be looking at months, not years,” Snyder told a conference on U.S.-Canada relations today in Ottawa. “This is the case study of one special interest trying to override the interests of many thousands and millions of people. But I can tell you this case study will have a happy ending, that we will get a bridge built.”

Michigan will continue with “plan A” to obtain legislative approval for the $1 billion project, Snyder said in a later interview with Bloomberg News. The government will encourage those that support the bridge, such as business and labor groups, to mount a “grassroots campaign” to turn public opinion, he said.

The Windsor-Detroit crossing is the busiest in the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship, with more than $128 billion in shipments and 8,000 trucks crossing the border there each day, according to Canadian government data. Truck traffic is expected to triple over the next 30 years, the country’s transport department estimates.

Much of the traffic now passes over the 81-year-old Ambassador Bridge, a toll bridge owned by Detroit International Bridge Co., a private company controlled by billionaire Manuel Moroun. Moroun has opposed the project, arguing the new bridge is unnecessary and costly. He has proposed to add a new span to the Ambassador Bridge.

The state is also considering producing television commercials to counter ads opposing the project funded by Moroun, Snyder added.

“There are a lot of commercial interests and business interests and labor interests interested in promoting it, and they’re communicating to their people, so I think there’s a good opportunity to get them more active in the dialogue,” Snyder said.

Last month, a state Senate committee rejected a proposal backed by Snyder to build the bridge, known as the New International Trade Crossing.

Canada has offered to pay as much as $550 million of the project’s costs.