Brian Calley: Hindering new bridge will hurt Michigan

“Proposal 6 is simply the gambit of one billionaire’s well-funded special interest that is trying to hijack the constitution. The scheme is to maintain a stranglehold on the busiest trade corridor along the border between the two largest trade partners in the world — the U.S. and Canada.”

Lansing State Journal

Written by
Brian Calley

Michigan’s constitution is a document that enshrines our values and establishes the basic framework of our government. It should not be a special-interest smorgasbord where amendments are added to protect the comforts of a select few.

But that’s precisely what it would become under Proposal 6.

Proposal 6 is simply the gambit of one billionaire’s well-funded special interest that is trying to hijack the constitution. The scheme is to maintain a stranglehold on the busiest trade corridor along the border between the two largest trade partners in the world — the U.S. and Canada.

Today, Canadians buy nearly half of what Michigan exports and consume 20 percent of everything Michigan farmers grow. Detroit-Windsor is one of the busiest trade corridors in America. Yet over 99 percent of commercial traffic is forced over one crossing – the Ambassador Bridge.

Relying on one 84-year-old bridge in one of the busiest trade corridors is an economic risk both for Michigan and the United States, and it’s a security risk and a maintenance risk that we cannot afford.

That’s why we need a modern, end-to-end, freeway-to-freeway connection between Michigan and Canada.

The new bridge between Detroit and Canada — known as the New International Trade Crossing — is all about jobs. Today, about 237,000 Michigan jobs depend on trade with Canada. Regionally, it’s one in eight jobs in Southeast Michigan. In West Michigan, it’s one in seven jobs. Under an agreement reached with Canada, we can build a new bridge at no cost to Michigan taxpayers, create 10,000 construction related jobs, and boost our economy all across the state by making it easier to trade with other markets.

When we look at spurring economic growth in Michigan, the new bridge is a critical part of that future. The benefits are tremendous.

In addition to the obvious economic gains, Michigan can leverage Canada’s $550 million contribution to maximize federal funding for much-needed road projects in every corner of the state. And, let’s be clear. This is a contribution from Canada to connect the new bridge to the Michigan freeway system, not a loan. Under our legally binding agreement, Michigan is under no obligation to pay it back.

There’s something else for voters to consider. Because Proposal 6 is so poorly worded, we believe it could require any bridge project in Michigan to go through a statewide vote — not just international crossings. Imagine forcing voters in Marquette to vote on whether a local bridge is needed in Monroe. The administrative and cost burdens could be enormous and wasteful.

When it comes to making decisions on whether to amend the constitution, it’s critical that we look at all of the consequences — even those that are unintended.

Michigan’s future is filled with boundless potential. Don’t let one special interest stand in the way of progress for working families and exciting opportunities for our next generation.