Michigan Voters Should Voice Support for The Bridge to the Future

Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce

Michigan voters have an opportunity to speak out in support of the proposed New International Trade Crossing (NITC) by soundly defeating a proposal on the November ballot that seeks to block the badly needed bridge between Michigan and Canada. That was the message delivered recently in a briefing to members of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce by Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Canadian Consul General Roy Norton.

On June 15, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced an agreement to build a publicly owned bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The new bridge will provide a much needed alternative at the busiest U.S.-Canada commercial border crossing, facilitating the movement of people and goods by ensuring border crossing capacity for the next 125 years.

Since the agreement was signed, the owners of the nearby Ambassador Bridge bankrolled a ballot initiative that would attempt to block the bridge through an amendment to Michigan’s Constitution. That issue will appear on Michigan’s November General Election ballot. Even though state officials say that the November vote would not be legally binding and subsequently be unable to stop the bridge from being constructed, they do fear a negative outcome would force long and expensive delays.

“Even though we believe the bridge will eventually be built, it would still cause significant additional legal expenses and be very costly for the entire project,” said Lt. Governor Calley.

Lt. Gov Calley and Consul General Norton labeled the massive TV campaign being financed by the Ambassador Bridge owners as “deliberately deceptive,” most notably for suggesting that the bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers money.

“Michigan taxpayers put no money down and they assume no liability once the bridge is operating,” said Lt. Gov. Calley. “Michigan will also receive approximately $50 million a year from tolls once the bridge opens.”

Lt. Gov. Calley and Consul General Norton hope that a planned, aggressive campaign in support of NITC will educate Michigan voters to the facts about the project and encourage the defeat of the November ballot proposal.

“It’s time to end the games and get serious about the project,” Consul General Norton told Chamber members. “Every voter in Michigan should be fully informed and be able to reject the folly being communicated in those TV ads.”

Michigan and Canada shared $70 billion in trade in 2011, which makes Michigan Canada’s largest trading partner. 237,000 jobs in Michigan are directly tied to trade in Canada, with an estimated 15,000 of those jobs in Ingham, Jackson and Livingston counties.

“Most nations around the world don’t share that much trade with each other,” said Lt. Gov. Calley.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest toll bridge and has the highest commercial and passenger tolls of any border crossing between the United State and Canada. The NITC will allow a greatly increased flow of goods between the two countries and help bring tolls to levels that are more in line with other border crossings. Some 10,000 jobs are expected to be created during the four-to-five years during which the bridge is being constructed. Lt. Gov. Calley estimated that work could begin as early as the spring of 2013.