Michigan residents Tuesday voted down an effort to prevent construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, that will offer an alternative to the privately owned Ambassador Bridge.
A rendering of the new bridge.
Voters soundly rejected Proposal 6, the proposed constitutional amendment supported by the owners of the private Ambassador Bridge to delay or block the planned New International Trade Crossing (NITC) bridge between Detroit and Windsor.
According to Canada's CBC news reports, Transport Canada spokesperson Mark Butler said the project can proceed on the U.S. side after a presidential permit and a Coast Guard permit are issued.
In June, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced he had bypassed the state legislature and struck a deal with Canadian officials to build the New International Trade Crossing. Canada will pay Michigan's $550-million share of the bridge. To recoup its money, Canada will charge tolls on the bridge for traffic coming into the country. There will be no tolls charged in Michigan for southbound traffic.
Proponents say the bridge is needed to take pressure off the crowded Ambassador Bridge border crossing, the busiest trade crossing on the U.S.-Canada border. A new direct connection between I-75 in Michigan and Highway 401 in Canada would ease traffic congestion at the border and allow trucks to bypass residential communities.
However, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge have been leading a campaign against a second crossing, and gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. The constitutional amendment would have required voter approval of all future government-sponsored international crossings.
Opponents say traffic on the Ambassador Bridge is down 40% since 1999 and that the governor has not made a solid case for the need for a second crossing.
Canadian officials, however, say there's a need to look beyond short-term statistics and prepare long-term solutions for increased trade over the Detroit River.
"The vote is terrific news and shows that the people of Michigan reject the self-interest and cronyism that so many of the states legislators have fallen victim to in recent years," said David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association.Related Stories:6/18/2012 Bridge Deal Reached for New Windsor-Detroit Border Crossing