Bridge a hot topic at SWCRC forum

Advisor & Source Newspapers

By Scott Held

SOUTHGATE — A new bridge to Canada still is on the minds of Downriver voters.

Nine candidates for state House of Representatives seats attended Monday’s Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber Legislative Forum and the only question for all nine regarded their take on the bridge and the ballot proposal regarding its construction.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), whose district includes the current site of the Ambassador Bridge, attacked one of the Ambassador Bridge owner’s talking points — that the state Legislature already ruled against the construction of a new span.

“People were bought and influenced,” she said during a brief question-and-answer session. “It was very obvious.

“Gov. Snyder did his research and I hope he comes around to our neighborhoods. Delray is in great need.”

Most of the nine candidates — Tlaib and fellow incumbent Reps. Douglas Geiss (D-Taylor), Patrick Somerville (R-Huron Twp.), Andrew Kandrevas (D-Southgate), Dian Slavens (R-Canton) and Paul Clemente (D-Lincoln Park), along with challengers Tony Amorose, Edward Gubics, Bill LaVoy and Tom Boritski — supported the construction of the new bridge, which was jointly announced by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Canadian government earlier this summer.

Canada will pay for the construction of the bridge and recoup the money in tolls from the span, which will be erected about two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge. Bridge owner Manuel Moroun has bankrolled a petition drive that ended with Proposal 6 on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

If Proposal 6 is approved, the state would need the approval of voters for any new bridge construction project.

Somerville did not take a stand either way on the construction of the new bridge but added that he felt the proposal, one of six on the ballot, was counterproductive.

“You elect representatives to make those decisions,” he said. Several other candidates echoed his sentiments.

Amorose, a Republican seeking to unseat Kandrevas in the new 13th District, repeated the talking points from a TV ad purchased by Moroun to express his opposition to the new bridge.

Monday’s forum wasn’t the last time attendees will hear about the bridge. The chamber will welcome Canadian Consul General Roy Norton, whose Detroit office represents the nation in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, on Oct. 15. He’ll address Canada’s trade relationship with Michigan and discuss the benefits of the new bridge.