Find a way to build new bridge to Canada

Crossing project will help Michigan’s economic future

Lansing State Journal

As 2011 comes to a close, one of the major disappointments of the year is the Michigan Legislature’s failure to approve the New International Trade Crossing, a new bridge between Canada and Michigan that could play a vital role in Michigan’s economic future.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who is a savvy businessman, understands the importance of that new crossing. In 2012, he must continue the quest, by any means necessary, even if it comes to going around the Legislature to other tools available to the state’s chief executive.

Snyder has given the project strong support, but it ground to a halt in October, when a Senate committee failed to support the bill.

In recent weeks, speculation has grown that there are ways to advance the project without legislative approval. Snyder told Gongwer News Service last week that he is “looking at all kinds of options” while still talking to lawmakers.

The legislative path is an uphill battle.

Manuel Moroun, owner of the existing Ambassador Bridge, has spent millions to block the new bridge, some in the form of campaign contributions to lawmakers and much in the form of advertising that challenges the need for the project.

Such effort helps prove the case against him: Michigan, the United States and Canada cannot afford to have one man with so much control over what is, in fact, the busiest commercial border crossing between the United States and Canada. An Anderson Economic Group analysis earlier this year noted some $120 billion in goods cross between Detroit and Windsor each year.

Canadian officials, eager for a more efficient crossing that takes a better route to their highways, have offered to cover Michigan’s $550 million share of construction costs, to be paid back by tolls. Moroun spends his money and effort feeding fears that Michigan taxpayers will be on the hook.

Snyder believes the bridge can be built without obligating the state’s taxpayers. So do many other leaders in government and business. The bridge will bring construction, jobs and improved trade with fewer delays.

Snyder told Gongwer last week that “The bridge idea is not going to die.”

It must not die, and the task of moving it forward rests on his shoulders. He must get it done for Michigan.

An LSJ editorial