Bridge plan crossing into political murky waters

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WINDSOR, Ont. — Politicians south of the border are debating the merits of funding for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study, while Ontarios Department of Transportation is content with its end of the bargain.

In an effort to provide safe, efficient and secure movement of people and goods across the Canada/US border in the Detroit area, governments on both sides of the border have been working together to provide a new border crossing to meet increased long-term demand.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and its consultant team, are working on the Canadian study in coordination with Transport Canada to comply with the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).

Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration are overseeing the US study carried out by a consultant team. The two political sides will then coordinate the studies.

But a budget battle in Michigan is now threatening to end funding for the US portion of the DRIC study. About US$33 million of Michigan money has been spent to so far on the study.

Sen. Alan Cropsey (R – DeWitt) launched an amendment to the state’s transportation budget to kill DRIC funding that was approved by the Senate. He said plans to build a privately owned bridge metres away from the Ambassador Bridge should be preferred to public funding.

The states representatives must still approve the move.

However, House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Steve Tobocman (D-Detroit) noted more than US$160 billion dollars of trade each year pass through Windsor-Detroit, and undermining DRIC is “foolish.”

— with files from the Windsor Star

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