Court upholds DRIC environmental assessment

By Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star

The Ontario Court of Appeals has dismissed a bid by the Ambassador Bridge to overturn the environmental assessment for a rival downriver Windsor-Detroit bridge.

The bridge company was appealing a lower court ruling that upheld the environmental assessment for the Detroit River International Crossing bridge.

“The government of Canada is pleased with the court’s decision, which confirms that the federal environmental assessment for the DRIC bridge was properly done,” said Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada.

The bridge company could appeal to the Supreme Court, but it would have to agree to hear the case, Butler said.

Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is continuing his push to build the DRIC bridge, but it is unclear whether he will sidestep legislators in Lansing and grant approval on his own.

It is believed Snyder is exploring legal options, while also touching base with various state lawmakers to figure out what it will take to secure final approval of the bridge.

The project has been stalled for months after a state Senate committee voted narrowly last October to reject the crossing project that would link the industrial communities of Brighton Beach and Delray.

“We’re still in dialogue with the legislature on the best way to move forward,” Snyder spokesman Ken Silfven said Thursday.

“There’s no time frame I can give you. We will keep working in a positive manner until we see the project become a reality. The benefits to Michigan are too important to ignore.”

Canada has offered up to $550 million to pay for the state’s share of the project. Washington has also agreed to count those funds under a federal infrastructure program that could provide Michigan with more than $2 billion for other road projects under a 4-to-1 investment ratio with the state.

“The Windsor-Detroit corridor is Canada’s most important trade artery and the busiest commercial land border crossing in North America,” Butler said.

“The government of Canada remains fully committed to building a new publicly owned crossing between Windsor and Detroit and will continue to work with the governments of Michigan and U.S. to advance this important project.”