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Election 2012: Michigan voters will get say on new Detroit River crossing
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

The battle over a new Detroit River crossing has taken a turn.

In a 4-3 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that voters throughout the state can make their voices heard on Election Day about a proposed bridge to connect Detroit and Windsor, Canada.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder over the summer unveiled his plan to build a new toll bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Canada, to relieve congestion on the Ambassador Bridge.

To entice support from their neighbors, the Canadian government has offered Michigan $550 million to cover the state’s share for the $1.5 billion project. Canada and the private developer would be repaid for their investments from the bridge’s toll revenue.

However, bridge opponents have stood firm on the issue. Critics say they have doubts about the necessity to build another structure. They question whether delays on existing structures are tied to inspections and not bridge capacity concerns.

“The People Should Decide” initiative gathered signatures to get a proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot to amend the state constitution and require a vote of the people before any new international bridge or tunnel is built connecting Michigan and Canada, including the New International Trade Crossing.

Proposal 6 on the fall ballot is being bankrolled by billionaire trucking mogul Matty Moroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge. Moroun has spent millions of dollars opposing the bridge plan. Instead, he is pushing to build his own bridge next to the existing structure, which is about two miles from the proposed NITC site.

Bridge supporters on both sides of the Detroit River say the NITC project is a go, regardless of the public vote. Gov. Snyder has said the ballot proposal will not halt the project because no taxpayer dollars are being used.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also insisted that the bridge will be built, despite any future legal challenges.

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