Harper vows public Windsor-Detroit bridge will be built “before I leave office”

“My understanding of the private owner’s position is that he not only owns the bridge, but somehow owns the broader crossing…of course, we don’t accept that. It’s obviously public space.”
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper

By Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has offered a guarantee that the $1-billion government-backed Windsor-Detroit bridge will soon be built.

Canada’s federal leader predicted on Monday that the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) will proceed “before I leave office.”

Regarding the continued efforts against the DRIC by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun, Harper described the Moroun family’s opposition as “ludicrous” in terms of their belief of private ownership and control over North America’s busiest trade corridor.

“My understanding of the private owner’s position is that he not only owns the bridge, but somehow owns the broader crossing,” he said. “Of course, we don’t accept that. It’s obviously public space.”

Harper made the remarks during a question-and-answer session in Washington, D.C., in the wake of the one-day North American Leaders Summit, according to the Toronto Star.

The DRIC project has been delayed for months after being rejected last fall by a state Senate committee in Lansing, Michigan.

Political approval in Michigan remains the last major hurdle before construction can begin on the crossing, which would be located in the industrial areas of Brighton Beach on the Canadian side and Delray on the U.S. side.

The Canadian federal government has offered Michigan up to $550 million to pay for its share of the project, but state politicians have been heavily lobbied by billionaire Moroun.

The office of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder indicated there is nothing new to report on next steps in Lansing to secure approval of the bridge or whether the governor will attempt to go around his fellow legislators so construction can soon begin.

“We appreciate (Harper’s) strong, continued support and also share his confidence in the project’s future,” said Ken Silfven, spokesman for Snyder.

“The (bridge project) is much too important to the economic well-being of Michigan and Canada to let it fall by the wayside.”

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