As Michigan begins a new year, many are hoping it will be one filled with promise and progress, especially in terms of the economy. These days, any Michigan resident is excited to hear plans to improve the state’s dismal economy but what many are asking themselves now is if a proposed public bridge connecting Detroit to Canada is the way to ensure economic prosperity. The Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) is being praised for the increased efficiency it could provide to the Windsor-Detroit Crossing, but not everyone is sure that this bridge will lead to promised economic success.
Canada is the main proponent in this process, insisting that the DRIC is vital to the economies of both nations. Roy Norton, Canada’s consul general, recently visited the Michigan District Export Council to gather support for the building of this bridge. He adamantly argues that without the DRIC, both economies will suffer. If the flow of commerce is not protected by this new bridge, Norton fears that trade between the U.S. and Canada could suffer, which could be devastating as well. For instance, 8 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada, according to Norton, and 230, 000 of those jobs are based right here in Michigan. For this reason alone there needs to be consideration of building this bridge. Canada argues that the short term and long term benefits are very clear, with numerous construction jobs being available as the job is being built and long term trade being protected by an easy access route between the two countries.
In addition, Canada has increased their investment in the project and promises that the bridge will come at no cost to Michigan taxpayers, a big concern for all citizens. Even so, some fear that expected revenue from tolls could fall short of expectations and leave a serious burden on some residents. Despite these fears, Canada is still willing to put more money into the project that they are convinced will largely outweigh the cost spent building it.
Currrently the Ambassador Bridge, which is privately owned by Manuel “Matty” Maroun, is the main transport between Michigan and Canada and some argue that the Ambassador is able to meet the needs of transportation back and forth. In fact, Maroun has even offered use his own funds to build a new 6-lane bridge instead of the DRIC being built. Despite its insistence on having the ability to encourage the growth of commerce in both countries, Maroun says the DRIC is “wasteful” and considers it to be an attack on his business. Some critics of the DRIC, such as State Senator Mark Jansen believe that a new bridge would be helpful, but if the Ambassador’s owner is intending to build a new one, he sees the money being spent on other areas of commerce. The question of its usefulness will certainly be debated in the coming weeks and whether it’s constructed or not, this decision will impact the commerce of Michigan.