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Detroit-Canada Bridge Plan Is A Go

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Gov. Rick Snyder speaks in Windsor on bridge deal. (credit: Michigan.gov)

Gov. Rick Snyder speaks in Windsor on bridge deal. (credit: Michigan.gov)

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WINDSOR (WWJ/AP) - Officials from the Canada and U.S. governments have announced plans to build a new Canadian-financed bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

At a news conference Friday in Windsor, the massive construction project was praised for the thousands of jobs it would create and the positive impact it would have on trade between the nations.

“This agreement is about more than building a bridge,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said. “It’s about building a future of economic strength and security for families across our entire state. The NITC will help Michigan farmers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers get their goods to market faster, as well as develop new customer bases. It also prepares southeastern Michigan to become a global transportation hub when coupled with the region’s other assets. Equally important, this agreement is a great illustration of the power of partnerships.

“This collaborative achievement by the state, our Canadian friends, the U.S. government, Michigan’s congressional delegation and the broad coalition of supporters shows the world that we’re moving forward with innovation, vision and relentless positive action. Today represents a major step in Michigan’s reinvention,” Snyder said.

According to a summary of the agreement, provided by the governor’s office, Michigan won’t be obligated to pay any of the costs of the bridge that’ll span the Detroit River south of the existing Ambassador Bridge. Both countries would be represented on a bridge board, and a Canadian entity would handle design, construction and operation of the bridge.

Snyder said construction costs for the bridge itself are estimated at $950 million. (View more details of the agreement).

State Senate Democrats support the Republican governor’s plan.

“My Democratic colleagues and I have been fighting to make a new bridge a reality for years now, so we are glad that Governor Snyder has decided to step up and move this process forward,” said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, in a statement. “It seems we’ve finally found the issue where the Governor is willing to be the grown-up in the room and tell the extremists within his own party that this project is far too important for our state to allow them to continue to delay it with political games and scare tactics.”

“This is the first time we’ve seen the nerd’s toughness actually come out and show us that he can put what’s best for Michigan and its people ahead of the interests of his own party,” Whitmer said.

But not everyone is happy with the bridge deal.

Mickey Blashfield from the Ambassador Bridge Company said Gov. Snyder is being disingenuous with his promise that no public money will being used for the project.

“That was the same promise made with the Mackinac Bridge in the 1950s, and we paid out of our general fund budget every year since then, or our transportaiton budget, every year since then,” said Blashfield. “There’s no way, and I don’t think that the hardworking taxpayers believe, that you can get a $2 billion piece of infrastructure for free.”

Blashfield is running a campaign to put the bridge project funding issue on the November ballot for Michigan voters to decide.  He said petition signatures are pouring in.

(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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