Dingell and Rakolta: Build the bridge, vote no on Prop 6

The Detroit News

The Metropolitan Affairs Coalition — leaders in business, labor, government and education in southeastern Michigan — strongly recommends a no vote on Proposal 6. We believe it is important that facts and truths, not lies and distortions, drive the decision of voters. Proposal 6 is a constitutional amendment that would require a vote of the people before the State of Michigan could construct or finance a new international bridge or tunnel. It is a direct attempt to thwart the building of the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) and protect a monopoly. We share the concern of many throughout the state that voters are being misled and confused by a multi-million dollar ad campaign filled with falsehoods and misinformation.

There has been a lot of coverage on this issue, and many mistruths, but voters need to know that there is strong, statewide bipartisan opposition to Proposal 6. The NITC is supported by nearly every major interest group in the state, including the auto industry, business, labor, government, educators, chambers of commerce, Democrats, Republicans, independents and every living Michigan governor.

The NITC supports trade and jobs. Detroit/Windsor is the busiest trade corridor between the United States and Canada. Our two countries share the largest two-way trade relationship on earth, impacting 235,000 Michigan jobs and more than 50 percent of the state’s trade. In 2011 alone, $120 billion in total goods crossed at Detroit/Windsor, representing $70 billion in direct trade between Michigan and Canada — critical to our auto and agriculture industries.

Construction of the NITC will generate jobs and business opportunities for our region. It is estimated that 10,000 jobs will be created to build the NITC — using only U.S. and Canadian steel — not Chinese steel as the ad campaign asserts. The NITC also will drive another 30,000 “ripple wave” jobs in supporting sectors. The magnitude of this project to our economy cannot be overstated.

The Canadian government has agreed to pay all costs and assume all liabilities for the New International Trade Crossing. The State of Michigan and Michigan taxpayers will pay nothing for this project, and face no future liability or obligation. Yet Michigan will participate fully in governance and oversight, jobs and resulting economic benefit. And Canada’s contribution can be used in Michigan as match for federal transportation dollars for road and bridge projects across the state.

The economic future of this state and region depends on modern reliable cross-border transportation capacity to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. The NITC increases capacity, reduces congestion and provides a convenient alternative for the 10,000 trucks that cross each day, with improved safety and redundancy in case of emergency.

MAC has a long standing position of strong support for the NITC as a critical infrastructure project that puts Detroit on the map as a true freight logistics hub and presents the economic development opportunity of our lifetimes. The interests of all the people should trump those of one special interest. Voters should learn the facts and vote NO on Proposal 6.

Debbie Dingell, President, D2 Strategies Chair, Metropolitan Affairs Coalition John Rakolta Jr., Chairman & CEO, Walbridge, and board member, Metropolitan Affairs Coalition.