BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Staff Columnist
A new, publicly owned bridge between Detroit and Windsor has been in the works since 2004 and is being disputed by the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Matty Mouron. As stated in a previous opinion on the bridge, the border between Detroit and Windsor is the busiest in terms of traffic along the whole Canadian-US Border. It carries 25% of all the trade between both countries. In fact, over 10,000 vehicles cross the Ambassador Bridge daily.
Mouron wants to build another bridge, a twin span next to the existing Ambassador. His argument against a bridge further down the river, funded by the State of Michigan, U.S. Government and Canadian Government, is that it would infringe upon the business of the Ambassador Bridge. I, however, completely disagree with Mouron. He is ranked 321 on the list of richest Americans by Forbes and has a net worth of $1.5 billion. I highly doubt his business will be affected, truly affected in the sense of him losing any money.
The Canadian Government recently pledged $550 million to build the bridge farther down from the Ambassador, in the Delray community of Detroit. It would connect directly to the 401, one of Canada’s main highways, and, of course, Interstate 75 here in Michigan. The bridge that is supposed to be built with the help of the Canadian Government, what we will call the “New International Trade Crossing,” needed to be voted on in the Senate and House of Michigan’s state government. It passed with flying colors in the House, but recently it went up for vote in the Senate and failed.
The bill lost in the Senate with a 3-2. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, a Republican from Monroe, didn’t vote. He is currently being accused of backing out of a deal that he agreed upon earlier.
State Senators (all Republicans) Mike Kowall of White Lake Township, Geoff Hansen of Hart, and Mike Nofs of Battle Creek voted “no.” Senators Judy Emmons of Sheridan and Dave Hildenbrand of Lowell, both Republicans, voted “yes.”
Tupac Hunter and Virgil Smith, both Democratic Senators from Detroit, abstained from voting as the bill had not included any benefits for the Delray community.
I can understand why both Hunter and Smith didn’t vote. It’s obvious that the Delray community needs some sort of benefits to help support the bridge. But while researching information about the bridge that could be built, a couple of facts stood out.
I found out that Kowall, Hansen, and Nofs all received money from Mouron during their campaigns. I found that very odd that these certain Senators would vote no and the others would vote yes, both from the same party. Coincidence? I think not.
This new bridge would create temporary jobs and be funded completely by Canada. Why would we not want this bridge? The only thing that is holding up the bill for me is the Delray community benefits. Once that clears up, I believe this bill should pass with no problems. But we always have to worry about those with deep pockets, because Mouron can easily pay off any of the Senators, which is what I believe happened in the recent vote.
Detroit and the State of Michigan would reap the benefits of this bridge, estimating that it would earn over $71 million in tolls in the first year. We just need to get rid of monetary influence on government (cough, cough, Mouron). Once we do that, the bridge bill should easily pass and create more traffic flow between both the United States and Canada, create more jobs, and help the state economically.