What a difference a day makes. On Sunday people were in a tizzy over the U.S. government’s failure to commit to a new border inspection plaza on the Michigan side of the Detroit River.
Canadian Consul General Roy Norton, who is leaving Detroit for Chicago, wanted to make a last-ditch pitch to fast track the $2.5 billion Detroit River International Crossing. That meant pushing President Barack Obama to go on the record saying the feds would fork out $250 million for a customs plaza on U.S. soil.
You could understand why Norton was so insistent. Gov. Rick Snyder had wound people up two weeks earlier, when he let it be known he was exasperated with the way Washington was dragging its heels.
“The U.S. government has largely taken a position that they don’t think they should pay anything for a facility for the United States government,” he told the Detroit Free Press editorial board. “In the meantime, I wouldn’t want to see the rest of the bridge held up over what you might describe as a somewhat difficult-to-understand attitude.”
Fair comment, considering every international crossing in the world is responsible for its own customs operation. And, since Canada is paying for “fifteen-sixteenths” of this project and buying up land on both sides of the border, expecting the Americans to throw in a few million dollars to fund their own little piazza doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
By Monday, Snyder was telling people to cool their jets and not get too worked up about the situation.
Perhaps he knew that his grumpy, off-the-cuff comment had gone viral and threatened to derail any goodwill that might exist with Washington.
Besides, the U.S. government had already agreed to pay to staff booths at the DRIC bridge (imagine that) and it was entirely possible Obama assumed everyone knew infrastructure funding was a no-brainer. The two went hand-in-hand. Or something like that.
We think something must be in the works, or Snyder spokesman Ken Silfven wouldn’t have scrambled to defuse the situation after Norton went said Canada would proceed with the project regardless of what the U.S. did or didn’t do, or how much they dilly-dallied. That included making land purchases stateside.
It was Silfven’s job to temper Snyder’s comments and the impact they had, especially when it came to Canadian media outlets.
“We did feel a need to make sure this is on Washington’s radar screen and that it gets the attention it deserves, which is why the governor made his recent comments,” Silfven said by way of explanation. “But we’re confident that the message has been received and that the issue will be resolved. Contrary to some reports, this isn’t dire.”
You could have fooled almost … everyone. Still, Snyder is right. The presidential permit was signed by Obama last year, and people take for granted that he’ll be long gone from office by the time the next significant step forward is taken.
But the important thing is that the project will not take a step back, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. It’s too late for that, despite Matty Moroun’s effort to derail DRIC at every opportunity.
At the end of the day, Washington will pay a paltry $250 million for a customs booth. How could Obama argue with that, when the Canadian government is paying $2.5 billion for everything else? That would be insanity.
From the Windsor Star