Feb 18, 2010

Traffic study confirms need for DRIC bridge

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) released required traffic information yesterday from a study prepared at the request of the Michigan Legislature that reaffirms the need for an additional border crossing in the Detroit-Windsor corridor despite the current economic downturn.

One of the claims Ambassador Bridge owner and GOP benefactor Matty Moroun in trying to keep his monopoly on the busiest border crossing in North America and fight the planned public-private Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) is that a second bridge is not needed because bridge traffic has slowed down. He makes this claim despite illegally beginning to build a second span right next to the current 80-year old bridge.

The investment-grade study was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates, and the Average weekday traffic (AWT) projections for 2035 contained in the DRIC investment-grade traffic study are less than 10 percent different from the traffic projections in the December 2008 DRIC Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

"This new study not only confirms the importance of the existing international crossing but also reaffirms the need for a new crossing in the Detroit-Windsor corridor within the next five to 10 years in order to support trade between the United States and Canada," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle, in a press release. "Now is the time to begin a project that will put 10,000 Michigan citizens to work and add more than 30,000 associated jobs during construction, while retaining another 25,000 jobs in our state for the long-term."

Submitting an investment-grade traffic study to the Michigan Legislature is one of two requirements of Public Act 116 of 2009. The Michigan Legislature also instructed MDOT to solicit responses from the private sector to gauge interest in joining a public-private partnership to construct the DRIC bridge, plaza, and related infrastructure, which MDOT did on Jan. 27 with responses due to MDOT March 17. All information will be submitted to the Michigan Legislature by May 1.

Senate Republicans have pulled out all the stops to help Moroun keep his monopoly, going so far as to threaten arrest and to hold up the Transportation Budget to get their way. Although the DRIC bridge has the support of both the U.S. and Canadian governments and leading Republicans, Moroun’s bought and paid for politicians will put up a fight on May 1.

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