Apr 30, 2010

Blame Canada for going to bat for Michigan taxpayers

We know representatives of the Detroit International Bridge Co. will say anything and do anything to keep their monopoly and one of only two international border crossings in private hands, and company president Dan Stamper proved that when he heard the news Thursday that Michigan taxpayers will not pay anything for the planned DRIC bridge, (Detroit River International Crossing).

The Canadian government announced they would pay up to $550 million for the project's expenses on the Michigan side of the bridge. That led Stamper to this insulating quote: “Michigan Gov. (Jennifer) Granholm, who is both a Canadian and an American citizen, has offered to sell the Michigan border.” The word that comes to mind to describe that attack is bullshit. Besides, the bridge company already owns the border.

Grosse Pointe billionaire and Republican benefactor Matty Moroun wants to build a second span, but he has been thwarted because he cannot get permits from either the Canadian or U.S. government, but that has not stopped him. The U.S. and Canadian governments want to go forward with a public-private DRIC bridge between Detroit and Windsor a few miles downriver, and it has widespread support.

In fact, Moroun is already building a second bridge span right next to the current Ambassador Bridge, and they do not have one single permit; not from the City of Detroit, the state of Michigan, the federal government or the Canadian government.

Moroun and company have tried everything to stop DRIC, including attempting a recall against a state House member who opposed him, offering the state money to stop and spreading money around to politicians.

Granholm made the announcement of the Canadian offer in a surprise appearance at the House Transportation Committee on Thursday, which later reported out favorably House Bill 4961 that would authorize Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership with Canada and a private sector developer/financier and create and save 10,000 Michigan jobs.

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, and the person out front has been Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt. His anti-Canadian rants and attacks have been embarrassing and damaging, almost to the point of declaring war on our biggest trading partner and closest ally.

According to subscription only Gongwer, “When asked about the generous offer from the Canadian offer, Cropsey laughed. He said Canada never delivered on its promise to put $300 million into addressing traffic issues at the Ambassador after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

The Ambassador Bridge crossing is the busiest border crossing in North America. More than $200 billion in trade went between the U.S. and Canada through Michigan in 2008.Canada will not want to grant permit to land the new Ambassador Bridge on the Canadian side because traffic on the Canadian side of the Ambassador empties into a city street in downtown Windsor, and trucks must go through 17 stop lights to reach the freeway. Backups can be as long as 5 miles, and Canadian officials do not want to see more traffic dumped onto city streets.

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