Snyder makes final pitch to defeat bridge Proposal 6

By Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Governor Rick Snyder and Steven London, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Bekum America Corporation

Williamston — Gov. Rick Snyder made his closing arguments Monday morning against Proposal 6 at a mid-Michigan manufacturing facility that supports construction of a new publicly owned bridge to Canada for its international business dealings.

Snyder has spent the past week crisscrossing the state in a last-ditch effort to defeat Proposal 6, a ballot initiative sponsored by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun and intended to halt or delay Snyder’s plans for the Canadians to finance a $2.1 billion bridge from Windsor to southwest Detroit. Noting the Buffalo, N.Y., area has four bridges, Snyder said there’s enough traffic to support the Ambassador Bridge and a new crossing two miles downriver.

“Shouldn’t we at least have a second crossing to say we’ve got that got that covered so we have opportunity, it allows us to grow, to be more successful?” Snyder asked during an event with supporters of the New International Trade Crossing at Bekum America Corp., a Williamston manufacturer of machines that make plastic bottles. “About everyone is behind this bridge except for the people who have the Ambassador Bridge.”

Canada has offered to front Michigan its $550 million share of the new bridge, which would be paid back to Canada through tolls for cars and commercial truck traffic. Moroun’s the People Should Decide campaign on Proposal 6 has suggested Michigan taxpayers may some day be responsible for billions in debt, despite a contract between Michigan and Canada that calls for Canada to assume all costs, debts and liabilities.

The narrator in a new Moroun radio ad claims, “It’s our money. It should be our choice.”

“It is our money. We are taking a loan from Canada of $550 million,” said Mickey Blashfield, director of the People Should Decide campaign and governmental relations director for Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co.

Snyder denounced Moroun’s ads insisting construction of a new bridge will divert taxpayer dollars away from schools, roads and social services.

“When they talk about taking dollars away from the classroom — that’s absolutely incorrect,” Snyder told reporters.

Snyder was joined at Bekum with the company’s employees and representatives of a coalition opposed to Proposal 6 and in favor of the NITC, including Ford Motor Co. and the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Ford moves 600 trucks a day across the Detroit River shipping cars and parts between Michigan and Ontario, said Charlie Pryde, regional director of governmental affairs for the Dearborn automaker.

“We need world-class infrastructure … and right now we don’t have it,” Pryde said.

Steve London, executive vice president of Bekum, said the company needs “another good passage into Canada” because the Ambassador Bridge is sometimes backed up.

“Sometimes getting into Canada is a challenge to even support a warranty on a machine,” London said.