Gov. Rick Snyder to push ahead on new Detroit River bridge, House speaker says

By Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau

LANSING – House Speaker Jase Bolger says he expects Gov. Rick Snyder will present a plan to go around the Legislature to proceed with a new bridge across the Detroit River to Canada.

“I think there’s a very good likelihood that he shows a plan,” Bolger, R-Marshall, said this morning. “He’s not been very mysterious about that.”

Snyder saw legislation for his New International Trade Crossing voted down in a Senate committee in October. At the time, Snyder called for a cooling-off period, after which he said he wanted to continue to work through the Legislature to get the project approved.

But in an appearance on public TV’s “Off the Record” at WKAR-TV in East Lansing, and in conversation with reporters following the taping, Bolger said there are no plans for action in the House.

He said he interprets other public comments made by both Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley to mean the governor plans to proceed with the project without legislative approval.

“I don’t expect the governor to give up on the bridge, whatsoever,” Bolger said.

A spokeswoman for Snyder could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bolger said he doesn’t know if Snyder could use an executive order to proceed with the bridge and will have to assess the plan once Snyder makes it public.

“I’ll tell you what he can’t do,” Bolger said. “He cannot obligate taxpayers. I’m waiting for such a proposal so we can evaluate it.”

Snyder surprised many in his Republican Party by coming out in favor of the bridge project in January. He says it will clear a border bottleneck, assure Michigan exporters have secure access to their biggest market and create thousands of construction projects. Snyder also promises the project will cost Michigan taxpayers nothing because Canada will front $550 million to cover the state’s share of the costs.

Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun opposes the project as an unfair and unnecessary government competition with his private business. He has spent millions fighting the proposal through TV ads, lobbying and campaign donations.