The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, December 10, 2010

NEWS BRIEFS

By The Building Tradesman



2nd Detroit River bridge dead, for now

The Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), a proposed second bridge to be built about two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge, died in the Michigan Senate on Dec. 1 by a 23-11 vote. The state House had approved the plan and Gov. Jennifer Granholm was ready to sign the legislation.

The refusal to OK the project by the Republican-dominated state Senate kicks it into next year and into the lap of Governor-elect Rick Snyder, as well as the new House and Senate.

Even though the project would employ thousands of building trades workers on both sides of the bridge, some Senate Republicans argued that the crossing isn’t necessary and would end up as a burden on state finances.

That’s even though the Canadian government has pledged to pick up $550 million in costs representing Michigan’s portion of the tab and get repaid through bridge toll receipts.

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Maroun, a billionaire, had already started to build a second span adjacent to the Ambassador, but was stopped when he failed to gain the necessary permits. He said it’s time “to stop delaying the Ambassador Bridge’s construction of its privately funded second span and work cooperatively to improve the existing international crossing.”

Opponents of Maroun’s second bridge – and they include lawmakers in both the U.S. and Canada – say that due to terrorist fears, it’s unwise to build a second span so close to the 81-year-old Ambassador. Also, they question the wisdom of having both spans comprising the nation’s busiest border crossing with Canada owned by a private individual.

“Lawmakers in this state keep talking about creating jobs,” said Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. “Well, building that bridge, someday, will be a tremendous jobs creator for us, but we need those jobs desperately in the trades, right now. It’s sickening that the Senate has refused to let the plan go forward.”