Thursday, December 22, 2016

Proposal 6: International bridges and other crossings

Sawyer Poel
ThunderHawk Staff Writer
Michigan voters have six proposals to vote on this year, however Proposal 6 is the most physical. Proposal 6 – if passed – would amend Michigan’s Constitution by requiring a statewide vote on the building of international bridges, tunnels, and other crossings. It would also redefine international automobile crossings as “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”
The Proposal, though broadly, is often directly linked to the planned construction of the Detroit River International Crossing, a new bridge planned to be constructed downriver of the current Ambassador bridge in Detroit.
According to the business magazine Crain’s Detroit, though the DRIC will be payed for in full by Canada, Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun is doing his best to convince Michigan otherwise in his campaign to pass Proposal 6. (see link here)
Moroun’s campaign for Proposal 6 argues the delays on the Ambassador Bridge are not caused by the lack of lanes, but because of the slow speed of Customs, which makes a second bridge redundant. The argument is supported also by the United Research services, which, in a recent study found that traffic on the Ambassador has gone down in recent years.  The group said that studies that estimate increased future traffic levels from 2002 data drastically overshoot real numbers.
Moroun also argues that another bridge may actually increase the problems with border crossing by thinning out customs workers even further. Opponents of Proposal 6 believe this last example is merely a tactic to keep the Forbes estimated $100 billion of U.S. – Canada trade on the Ambassador Bridge rather shared with a newer bridge.
In 2002, Michigan began planning the creation of a new public bridge from the U.S. to Canada. In 2005 the Detroit – Windsor border was settled upon for construction. Canada agreed to cover the costs of construction and operation of the bridge in exchange for all of the revenue from the tolls on the bridge until Canada is fully compensated.  (see link here)
At that point, the U.S. would share the revenue with Canada.The Detroit-Windsor  border is home to ¼ of all U.S. trade with Canada making it a second bridge seemingly necessary.
For Michigan it seemed like a win – win: get a new bridge, and Canada pays for it. DRIC supporters believe that once Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun got wind of the plans he realized a second bridge would lower the profits from his, so he  has spent over $10 million in advertising Prop – 6. (see link here)
These Advertisements often use the word “could”, in saying that The DRIC could cost Michiganians money, or that the costs could be payed for in taxes. Although the deal for the DRIC has already been made, The Detroit Free Press writes “If Prop 6 is approved, the bridge likely would be delayed, and a court challenge over the proposal’s legality would likely commence, also delaying the new bridge.” (see link here)
Even after the vote Tuesday, final word on the bridge may not come for some time.

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