New bridge a step closer to reality

Michigan body unanimous in support

By Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star

The proposed $1-billion government backed Windsor-Detroit bridge has moved one small step closer to reality with unanimous board approval Wednesday of the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Gov. Rick Snyder bypassed his fellow legislators in Lansing under what is known as an “interlocal agreement” in a deal earlier this month with Canada to build the downriver Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge.

Under the agreement the Michigan Strategic Fund – a state government economic development entity – is a primary party in the agreement and its approval was required to move forward.

One on the final hurdles on the U.S. side remains a presidential permit. Snyder’s office has sent in its application to the U.S. Department of State and remains hopeful approval can be fast-tracked and possibly be completed this fall.

Even in a best-case scenario construction is unlikely to begin on the DRIC bridge for at least another year as financing needs to secured, tenders issued and expropriation on the Detroit side needs to occur.

Possible delays may also occur under continued opposition by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun who is seeking to derail the DRIC bridge project in order to protect his $60 million in annual toll revenues, plus millions more in revenues from the sale of duty free gas and goods.

Moroun’s bridge company officials say they have already gathered enough signatures to get the bridge issue on the ballot during statewide elections this November where they are proposing voter approval be required for any new international crossing in Michigan.