Ambassador Bridge threat another reason second bridge needed, Snyder says

Written by Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press

EAST LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder and others pushing for a new international bridge across the Detroit River today pointed to Monday’s closure of the Ambassador Bridge after a bomb threat as one more reason to build the bridge.

Snyder was asked about the bridge closure after making opening remarks at the Michigan Ag Expo at Michigan State University, where he touted the proposed New International Trade Crossing as a way to increase agricultural exports to Canada.

He told reporters it’s “terrible to hear about any kind of bomb threat in any circumstance,” and “that’s something that needs to be investigated and dealt with thoroughly, appropriately and quickly.”

He added: “As a practical matter, one of the challenges and important things to think about are the homeland security aspects of our crossings. So again, this new crossing would be helpful in that regard, and in terms of creating other options.”

Tom Shields, the Lansing spokesman for the business coalition backing the new public bridge, said the need for redundancy in critical trade crossings between Detroit and Windsor has long been one of the main arguments for the new bridge.

It’s true that if there were two bridges, false bomb threats could be called in to both of them, Shields said. But what if a real threat materializes causing the Ambassador Bridge to be closed for a period? he asked. That’s a major argument for building a second bridge about two miles downstream, as proposed by Snyder, rather than beside the Ambassador, as proposed by Moroun, he said.

The Ambassador Bridge closed about 8 p.m. Monday after Detroit police received a bomb threat. It reopened about five hours later after officials determined the threat was a hoax.

On Thursday, a similar false bomb threat closed the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel for a period.

“We take any threat very seriously,” said Dan Stamper, president of the Detroit International Bridge Co., which operates the Ambassador Bridge and opposes a new public span.

“We cannot confirm, but suspect, that this has something to do with Canada’s disinvestment at the border by cutting back on Customs agents,” Stamper said in a prepared statement.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said she didn’t understand what Stamper meant by that comment and bridge officials did not immediately return phone calls.

Shields said he believes Stamper was referring to a labor dispute on the Canadian side of the border.

“It’s rather outrageous just to speculate out loud,” Shields said. “There are all kinds of crazies out there, between the two countries.”