Travel from Detroit to Canada will hopefully be getting easier in the coming months. A second bridge that would connect Detroit to Windsor is currently being discussed between several parties. While many people are in favor of the project, a large roadblock must be overcome: Who should have the right to build the new bridge.
If funded by the state, the project, known as the New International Trade Crossing, will provide a means for efficient commercial and passenger traffic flow under mutual ownership by the Canadian and Michigan governments. However, the Moroun family — who privately owns the Ambassador Bridge that connects Canada to the United States — wants the right to build the second bridge themselves. Lawmakers should not allow the Moroun family to persuade them, and the project should remain publicly owned.
Matthew Moroun, vice chair of the Moroun family’s Detroit International Bridge Company, is against Snyder’s proposal for a publicly owned, yet privately-operated project, since the NITC bridge would create competition with the Ambassador Bridge. Moroun has stressed the importance of maintaining complete private sector control over the bridges. By emphasizing the success that the Ambassador Bridge has had since the 1970s as a structure free of government control, Moroun hopes to persuade legislators to turn the NITC into a privately-owned and operated project.
However, a publicly-operated bridge will boost the state economy. The state will hire a private company to construct the passage, but all generated revenue will be granted to the state treasury. Public construction is a great way to help decrease Michigan’s current unemployment rate. Since a private company would construct the bridge, the endeavor would create much-needed jobs in Michigan.
Construction of a second bridge will give the state and Canada many financial benefits. Michigan’s economy is in dire need of a boost, and public projects like the NITC can help. If the bridge is privatized, all the money goes to the Moroun family, which has had a monopoly on automobile travel to and from Canada since it purchased the Ambassador Bridge. Making the bridge public would allow the state to implement tollbooths across the span of the bridge, which would produce revenue that could further build up the state’s economy.
The project gained the attention of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and was included in his State of the State address last January. Snyder stressed the importance of international trade for the Michigan economy, particularly for the individual farmer and manufacturer. Adding a second connector bridge will make trade between the United States and Canada easier. Engaging in a strong international trade partnership with Canada makes the NITC that much more productive for the state.
Lawmakers should oppose Moroun’s efforts for a privately-owned and operated NITC. Michigan can greatly benefit from this second bridge that will become an integral part of the state. The economic benefits from the construction of the bridge alone will be worthwhile. And when one considers the benefits that will be accrued once the bridge is up and running, it would be foolish not to back the state-sponsored project.