Editorial: Don’t leave new bridge to chance

There are some public projects that transcend partisanship. These are projects that are vital to the well-being of the many, projects that chart a course for a brighter future. The New International Trade Crossing is one such effort. The proposed new bridge to Canada will improve efficiency at the nation’s busiest border crossing. That will make for more efficiency in Michigan’s manufacturing sector.

The new crossing also will improve border security — and thus national security — by assuring that one privately owned bridge no longer holds the ability to control the majority of trade goods crossing between Detroit and Windsor. It’s lunacy to allow reliance on a single bridge, especially when the owners have shown themselves willing to go to outrageous lengths to protect their own financial interests at the expense of national security and Michigan’s economy.

Remember the 2012 ballot proposal sponsored by the Moroun family in an effort to block the NITC project. Michigan voters wisely trounced the proposed constitutional amendment that would have made building a publicly owned bridge more difficult. Before that, the Morouns successfully blocked a legislative vote in favor of the project. Gov. Rick Snyder worked around that by signing a deal with Canada that did not require legislative approval.

Now the NITC faces another roadblock. Snyder said last week after his State of the State address that federal authorities have been reluctant to commit funding needed for a new U.S. customs facility on the U.S. side of the new bridge. Preliminary work continues, but there will come a point when failure to fund that customs facility will effectively block the project.

The Detroit Free Press reported last week that the Moroun family has made contributions to the most conservative members of Michigan’s congressional delegation. They have also engaged lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

Whatever the source of the hangup, both Republicans and Democrats have endorsed this project because it’s the right thing for Michigan. Business Leaders for Michigan is in favor; so are unions that would benefit from the surge in construction employment.

Michigan has a contested governor’s race and a contested U.S. Senate race this year. Republican and Democratic candidates should make their support for NITC clear. Michigan’s congressional delegation from both parties should push President Obama to act. This bridge is too important to sacrifice.

Originally posted in the Lansing State Journal