Lansing — Michigan should clear the final permit hurdles to building a bridge to Canada within six months, Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday morning at a media roundtable on Tuesday’s election results.
The first order of business following the defeat of Manuel “Matty” Moroun’s ballot proposal — Proposal 6 — to sideline the project will be obtaining a federal permit that’s already been in the works for months, Snyder said.
Snyder said “it will be a few months to a half year” for Michigan to complete the permitting process that is the final step to getting shovels in the ground.
Proposal 6 would have required a public vote to approve any new international bridge or tunnel. Moroun hoped to block Snyder’s deal with Canada to build a New International Trade Crossing, a planned $2.1 billion project from southwest Detroit’s Delray neighborhood to Windsor.
“The defeat of Proposition 6 clears the way for the construction of the new bridge across the Detroit River,” said Canadian Transport Minister Denis Lebel in a statement Wednesday. “We will continue to work with the Obama administration and our partners in Ontario and Michigan to obtain the necessary presidential permit to allow this important bridge to proceed.”
The project will be funded mostly by Canada, which would lend Michigan the money to pay for work on the U.S. side of the Detroit River. Michigan’s debt would be repaid with bridge tolls.
Moroun poured a record-setting $33.1 million into a Proposal 6 campaign dubbed “The People Should Decide” to halt or delay construction of the project.
The Moroun campaign conceded defeat late Tuesday, but read the results differently than Snyder.
“It is clear the voters resisted amending the constitution, but it would be a mistake to assume taxpayers support a flawed government bridge that puts taxpayers at risk,” Mickey Blashfield, director of The People Should Decide, said in a statement.
Roy Norton, the Canadian consul general to Detroit, campaigned across the state with Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in support of anew bridge.
“We’re very heartened, Canadians are, that Michiganders have seen through the campaign that was waged by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge and that clearly Michiganders have decided they want a bridge built,” Norton said late Tuesday.
Norton said he hoped the Morouns are willing to live with the results.
“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword when you invite the people to decide and the people reject your hypothesis; clearly, you’re not where you want to be,” Norton said.
Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said his business group anxiously awaits to see whether Moroun will continue to put up legal and political obstacles to building a new bridge.
“We’re going to find out in the coming days if Matty Moroun really meant the people should decide,”Baruah said. “Will Matty now disarm?”