Jun 7, 2010

Compromise may be in the offering as hearing on DRIC bridge continues

The much-needed planned Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge over the Detroit River between Canada and Windsor has lots of bipartisan support, including support among labor unions and business people, and it got a boost at the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual policy conference last week on Mackinac Island

At an after-dinner speech at the Grand Hotel at the conference, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne received "strong applause for his resounding endorsement of plans to build a second bridge over the Detroit River," according to the Detroit Free Press.

"I want to make it clear that Chrysler strongly supports the proposed DRIC," he said. "Each day, Chrysler moves more than 1,300 shipments, some 2,000 cars and trucks, and makes 1,600 entries per day at the Detroit-Windsor border. Hundreds of our employees cross the border to work in the U.S. or Canada."

House Bill 4961 that would authorize Michigan to enter into a public-private partnership with Canada and a private sector developer/financier to build the DRIC bridge is being held up by Senate Republicans, and it is the first step in building the bridge.

The bill received a hearing last week in the Senate Transportation Committee. Republicans have gone to bat for Ambassador Bridge owner and Republican benefactor Matty Moroun, who is already building a second span next to the Ambassador Bridge to keep his monopoly despite not having a single permit. Republicans in the committee falsely claimed the state does not need a second bridge and that it takes away legislative oversight.

Apparently, the widespread support the DRIC bridge has is changing some minds, and subscription only Gongwer that covers the Capitol reports a compromise may have been reached on the bill in Mackinac.

"Compromise is possible on legislation that would allow for the development of the Detroit River International Crossing, legislative leaders said, especially after legislative Republican worries about some aspects of the project were outlined at the final session of the Detroit Regional Chamber meeting here," according to Gongwer. "Meanwhile, the CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber announced the group would step up its lobbying efforts to win approval of the new bridge project."

The Senate Transportation Committee will again take up HB 4961 tomorrow, Tuesday June 8 at 1 p.m. in the Senate Hearing Room in the Boji Tower in downtown Lansing, and it will also take up the bill the next day at the same time on Wednesday. The committee meetings are open to the public.

Call your state Senator and tell him to support HB 4961, the DRIC bridge and 10,000 Michigan jobs before the jobs and the federal money goes to Buffalo.

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