Could ‘Yes’ vote on Prop 6 backfire on Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project?

By Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau

LANSING — Passage of Proposal 6 could have the perverse effect of blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said today.The proposed constitutional amendment, bankrolled with more than $31 million from companies controlled by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun, is intended to create an obstacle to a proposed public bridge to Canada by requiring a statewide vote on new international crossings.

At a news conference in Lansing today, Calley repeated an argument he’s made for months that due to an “enormous error in the drafting” of the proposal, it would affect any Michigan bridge that was not open to traffic by Jan. 1, 2012, not just new international bridges.

Calley today gave that argument a new twist, saying Proposal 6 would compromise the recently connected Gateway Project that links the Ambassador Bridge to the state freeway system.

“That was not open to traffic as of Jan. 1,” Calley said of the Gateway project. “Their proposal might even prevent access to their own bridge.”

An Ambassador Bridge spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. But Moroun officials in the past have rejected suggestions Proposal 6 applies to projects other than international crossings. They say the Michigan Supreme Court effectively rejected those arguments also when it approved the question for the Nov. 6 ballot.

Calley said the Supreme Court never considered the question of what types of bridges would be affected by the proposal.

The lieutenant governor was joined at a Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce news conference by a local government official and a union official. Both expressed grave concerns about the scope of the proposal/

“No bridge could be built without having statewide and local voter approval,” said Judy Allen, director of government relations for the Michigan Townships Association.

After significant delays, the $230-million Gateway project opened to traffic in September.