The long-stalled second bridge over the Detroit River looks as if it’s finally headed for construction thanks to a bold plan assembled by the U.S. and Canadian governments, as well as the Ontario provincial government and the state of Michigan.
The plan is clearly a bold stroke for Gov. Rick Snyder, who decided to maneuver around the obstructionists in his own Republican Party and go forward with plans for the Detroit River Crossing Bridge.
As it stands, the new bridge will be constructed without using Michigan taxpayers’ money through some clever financial engineering designed by the municipal, provincial and federal governments in Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the $2.1 billion bridge as “the single most important” international infrastructure project he will undertake as prime minister. He said it will also be one of Canada’s best investments.
The Canadians have long been advocates of a second bridge over the Detroit River. In a nice bit of historical irony, the deal for the new crossing tying the U.S. and Canada was signed only two days before the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, in which the U.S.-Canadian border along the Detroit River was a major focal point and battleground.
The Canadians, according to financial plans, have agreed to pay fo Michigan’s half of the bridge through tolls collected on the Canadian side. Canada’s government would also finance the purchase of land in Canada and Michigan, as well as the cost of building roadways to connect the bridge to Interstate 75 in Detroit.
Advocacy e by the U.S. auto industry, Detroit Chamber of Commerce and Oakland County’s L. Brooks Patterson has helped in setting the plans for the second bridge firmly in place.
Ultimately, however, construction of the bridge isn’t about traffic levels but about the future of southeast Michigan and Southwestern Ontario.
The bridge will certainly generate some construction jobs and short-term economic benefits. It also says to the world that the Detroit metropolitan area and the state of Michigan are preparing for a bright economic future over the long haul.