Building a bridge to somewhere

The Washington Post

By Al Kamen

Is the Obama White House media-shy these days?

Seems the State Department granted a permit last week for a major U.S.-Canada construction project.

(Rebecca Cook/Reuters) – Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announces that the U.S. State Department has issued a key permit allowing Michigan and Canada to proceed with constructing a new bridge over the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

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No, not that project, but a big one nonetheless: a $1 billion bridge over the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, to relieve congestion and build trade over the most heavily used trade portal to this country. (There’s now only one bridge, privately owned and 80 years old, over the river.)

Estimates are that the project will cost $3.5 billion and create about 12,000 jobs directly and 31,000 indirectly (cement, steel and so forth) in the two countries, according to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

The jobs would be split between the United States and Canada, but even at that, the total might be about what the controversial Keystone XL project would produce — depending on which of the wildly varying estimates is correct.

Even better, the Canadians are committed to paying Michigan’s half of the bridge’s construction cost, with future toll revenue paying off that debt.

So, let’s see, you’ve got: (1) a major infrastructure improvement project; (2) increased international trade; (3) bipartisan support; and (4) 20,000 American jobs being created.

To paraphrase Vice President Biden, seems like this is kind of a big deal. But only the Canadian and Michigan media paid much attention to the permit grant, which is the final go-ahead move. Media (including The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and so on) wrote short items Friday and Saturday based mostly on wire reports.

The State Department issued a statement last week noting the permit, but, best we can tell, the White House, perhaps focused on guns, nuclear threats, immigration and so forth, was quiet.

Well, Obama won Michigan and Ohio last time, so…