BAY CITY, MI — More than 8,000 trucks cross the Detroit-Windsor border every day, and that number is expected to increase as much as 128 percent in the next 30 years.
The New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Ontario could be the most important infrastructure project in Canada, said Roy Norton, consul general of Canada based in Detroit. It should be a priority for Michigan, Norton told The Rotary Club of Bay City.
Norton spoke to the group Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Bay City.
The proposed bridge between Detroit and Windsor has met strong opposition from the owners — Matty Moroun and his family — of the Ambassador Bridge, and Michigan residents will vote on a ballot proposal aimed at blocking a new crossing Nov. 6.
“There’s only one rational reason for opposing” the bridge, Norton said. “If you own the Ambassador Bridge, you will cease to enjoy monopoly profits.”
More than $1.7 billion of goods cross the border every day, Norton said, a relationship that greatly benefits both Michigan and Canada.
The estimated cost for the project, including the U.S. and Canadian inspection plazas, the bridge and the interchange, is $3.5 billion to $4 billion.
Norton said ads from “The People Should Decide” incorrectly put the cost of the project at $8 billion for Michigan taxpayers.
“It will cost the state of Michigan $0,” he said. “We are so concerned about a lack of an alternative, we felt we had a choice: Do nothing or pay for it, and doing nothing wasn’t acceptable.”
Norton said the Canadian Government is taking on the risk and liability, while Michigan won’t have to take on any but will still see the creation of about 10,000 construction jobs and about 13,000 indirect jobs.
“It’s completely noncontroversial in Canada,” Norton said.
Mike Seward, president of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, said his organization unanimously supports the building of the bridge, as does the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, of which he is a member.
Norton urged attendees and Michiganders to vote against Proposal 6, which he called a “cynical, manipulative effort mounted by Morouns to persuade you to amend your constitution to deny yourselves transportation choice and preserve and protect their monopoly for some time into the future.”
If citizens vote down Proposal 6, Norton said ground could be broken on the project in 2014, with construction done as soon as 2017. If voters approve Proposal 6, Norton said it could mean years of legal battles.
“Positive-thinking Michiganders have an opportunity this November to prove they believe in Michigan’s future as much as we believe in Michigan’s future,” Norton said. “If you mobilize to defeat this Constitutional Amendment, I think you’ll position your state well to take advantage of job creating economic development opportunities well into the future.”