DETROIT — American voters sent a message to their legislators yesterday: “If you want to build a new bridge across the Detroit River to Windsor,” they said via their ballots, “just do it. You don’t have to ask us.”
As part of the American elections Tuesday, Michigan voters were presented with six proposals, all of which were defeated. And two of them affected the new bridge planned for the Windsor-Detroit crossing.
Proposal 5 would require either a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or public approval by way of a statewide referendum before any new taxes could be levied. Proposal 6 would also demand a two-thirds vote or a public referendum before any new bridge or tunnel could be built.
Proposal 6 was introduced in response to the proposed construction of a new Canadian funded bridge; that bridge would directly compete with the privately owned Ambassador Bridge. And it was the owner of the Ambassador that spearheaded the now defeated proposal, spending over $30 million to do it.
In the wake of the election, supporters of the propositions said they promise to remain vigilant of the project and that they’re confident the new bridge will, in fact, fail.
“We are happy with the investment made in this campaign on behalf of taxpayers and the 5,000 families employed by Ambassador Bridge family of Companies.Like any family business, we would do it again — and will in different ways — to defend economic freedom and limited government. If the governmental proposal doesn’t collapse from the weight of legal and congressional scrutiny, the NITC will never be built over unstable salt mine foundations, where land speculators are lining up to get rich on the government’s tab.”
Back in Canada, Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, said that “The defeat of Proposition 6 clears the way for the construction of the new bridge across the Detroit River. The new bridge will attract new investments and business opportunities to boost our local and national economies and will result in much needed jobs for Ontario and Michigan communities.
“This new crossing will be jointly owned by Michigan and Canada. Once the builder and Canada have fully recouped their investment from tolls, Michigan and Canada will enjoy an equal share of the toll revenues.”
Lebel said that they will continue to work with the Obama administration, as well as Michigan and Ontario, to obtain the necessary Presidential Permit to start work.
UPDATE: In a statement issued late this morning, Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) president David Bradley said the defeated propositions is “terrific news and shows that the people of Michigan reject the self-interest and cronyism that so many of the state’s legislators have fallen victim to in recent years.
“As has been said so often in the last 12 hours — the people have spoken and the people are always right,” he continued. “The people have rejected a proposal that would have denied Michiganders and the people of the entire United States, as well as Ontario and Canada, the benefits of the most important infrastructure project in years.”
Bradley, who has been an ardent supporter of a new, publicly-owned bridge for many years, gave credit to the efforts of Governor Rick Snyder and the hard work of a dedicated group private citizens and business groups “in overcoming a campaign against the new bridge which has been founded more on financial might than what is right.”
Bradley doesn’t expect the battle to be over as the NITC may still end up in legal wrangling, but he added, “the only court that truly matters — the court of public opinion — has rendered its decision.”
For a more complete analysis of the situation, read Rolf Lockwood’s blog: “Democracy at its Very Worst.”
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