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House Panel Blocks Funding For New International Bridge

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Just two days before the governor is expected to announce a plan for the project, Michigan Republican House lawmakers are attempting to block state spending to build another bridge across the Detroit River.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a supplemental budget that would prohibit using state money unless the Legislature authorizes construction of the bridge.

Grandville Republican Rep. Dave Agema said Wednesday his goal in amending the supplemental budget is “to stop spending money” lawmakers didn’t authorize.

“It’s a basic rule – it’s constitutional. The Legislature has the right to appropriate funds,” said Agema. “My goal is to stop spending money we didn’t authorize.”

Gov. Rick Snyder has met with Canadian officials and seeks to collaborate with them to build a new span that would supplement the privately owned Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

Snyder is expected to make an announcement Friday about an agreement to complete the project.  He said it will decrease cross-border traffic, increase commerce between the U.S. and Canada, and create jobs.

The U.S. side of the bridge would land in Southwest Detroit’s Delray neighborhood, causing worry that some residents could lose their homes.

Margarita Hepvurn, who grew up in Delray neighborhood, said the construction would uproot families who have lived in the area for decades.

“They would have to knock down a lot of these houses,” Hepvurn told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey.  “I don’t know if they’re gonna be paying them to leave, but people have lived here their whole lives, so it would definitely be a big change.”

Hepvurn’s mother, who still lives in Delray, said she does not have a problem with the project as long as she doesn’t have to move.

Despite objections from nearby residents, Shawn Kniffin said the failing economy of the area trumps the resistance.

“A lot of residents don’t like the idea, but if it’s gonna produce jobs and add to the economy in the city, I think it’s really important,” he said. “We need it. Detroit’s a dying city.”

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Maroun has publicly opposed the project in favor of a span that would be in his control, and is expected to challenge it in court.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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