Editorial: State must continue fight for bridge

Detroit-Windsor crossing vital to economy

Now that Michigan has received a needed federal permit to proceed with the New International Trade Crossing, one point cannot be more clear: Those who care about the state’s economic future must fight valiantly to assure this project is successfully completed.

The NITC is the name for the proposed new bridge between Detroit and Windsor — a new bridge that many analysts consider essential to the state’s future prosperity.

Gov. Rick Snyder has worked tirelessly on advancing the new bridge, carving a deal with Canadian authorities that will allow the much-needed project to proceed despite objections from Manuel Moroun, owner of the Detroit International Bridge Co. which operates the existing Ambassador Bridge.

The Ambassador has been a privately owned bridge since its construction in the 1920s. Moroun, like any good business man, is defending his interests as he fights to block a competing crossing. But the interests of one billionaire and his family are not the interests of Michigan’s people — no matter how many millions he spends trying to thwart the effort with advertising campaigns and constitutional amendments. (A ballot proposal he sponsored in an effort to block the bridge was wisely and soundly defeated by Michigan voters last November.)

Recall, the bridge is considered so vital by Canada that it has signed on to lend Michigan the $550 million share of the construction costs, to be paid back by future tolls.

Taxpayers will not be on the hook for construction costs, except to the extent that some federal money will be spent as the bridge is, after all, a vital international trade crossing.

Canadian officials say that one-quarter of all trade between the two nations passes through Detroit and Windsor, which is the busiest crossing between the two nations.

Snyder predicts bridge construction could create 12,000 direct jobs and 31,000 indirect jobs. Southeast Michigan economic development officials project the new bridge could help add 66,000 additional jobs to the state and increase its prominence as a logistics hub.

The Morouns will keep fighting; they already have one federal lawsuit filed. Snyder, the state’s congressional delegation and its business leaders must keep their eye on the prize. To have a thriving future, Michigan needs the new bridge.

An LSJ editorial