Last Wednesday, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder became the most prominent Michigan lawmaker to express support for the proposed Detroit River International Crossing — a second bridge that would connect Michigan and Ontario, Canada. By almost every estimate, the bridge would be a boon to the state’s lagging economy, and the benefits of the bridge would also help the province of Ontario. The Canadian government has even offered to cover Michigan’s share of the construction costs in the form of a $550 million loan. Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars depend on this proposal. The state legislature should take advantage of Canada’s offer and authorize the construction of a new bridge.

Snyder made his appeal for moving forward on building the Detroit River International Crossing — one of the centerpieces of his State of the State address last week. The construction part of the project would create 10,000 temporary jobs and maintenance of the bridge would create 25,000 jobs. According to a Jan. 19 Detroit Free Press article, the United States Department of Transportation will allow Michigan to use the Canadian loan to leverage another $2 billion in federal highway funds to fix roads and bridges throughout the state. Last year, a bill authorizing plans for the bridge failed in the Michigan Senate.

Snyder’s support of the DRIC proposal is encouraging. This project has struggled to gain support from the Republican Party in the past, and backing this project solidifies Snyder’s commitment to bipartisan politics. He needs to continue to make a push for this important project and emphasize that it will not happen on the taxpayers’ dime. The legislature needs to begin to make a push for this project to get underway under the established payment plan.

Creating a new bridge between Michigan and Canada will have many positive impacts for people throughout the state. Simply starting construction on the DRIC will create 10,000 jobs right away. Over the long term, the proposed bridge will bring an increase in trade and traffic throughout the state that could create as many as 40,000 jobs. The bridge will also benefit Michigan businesses. The state government should recognize all of the positives of this plan and work to bring it to fruition.

Not only will the bridge help Michigan residents and businesses, it will also help create state revenue. Unlike the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge, toll revenues from the new crossing will accrue directly to the state government. For the state, the DRIC is an incredible deal. By creating jobs, giving the government access to toll revenues and bringing home billions of dollars in federal money — all at no cost to taxpayers — the DRIC is a rare win-win for the state. Michigan lawmakers have a unique opportunity to invest in the state’s future at almost no risk, and it’s time for them to make it happen.

Snyder has many plans for revitalizing Michigan’s economy, and his support of the DRIC is one of the most exciting. The state legislature needs to rally behind this project and give it the momentum it needs to become a reality.

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