Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Bridging the gap

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reportedly is thinking of bypassing the Legislature and approving a new bridge across the Detroit River to Canada. He could work through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. or even create a new bridge authority.

Normally, attempting an end run around a branch of government would be outrageous. In this instance, though, it would be fully justified.

Lawmakers have refused even to consider seriously a project that is supported by virtually every major civic and business group in Michigan and is essential to the state's welfare. One-fourth of all trade between the United States and Canada, with a value of more than $125 billion a year, moves across the ancient Ambassador Bridge, which was built in 1929. There is no backup system, and commercial truck traffic at the crossing is expected to double by 2035.

Last year, Governor Snyder urged lawmakers to enact legislation that would enable the New International Trade Crossing. Building the bridge would create an estimated 10,000 jobs and would not cost Michigan taxpayers one cent.

Canada is so desperate for the new bridge that it will front Michigan's share of construction costs, a projected $550 million. Washington will allow Michigan to use that sum as matching money to collect $2.2 billion in badly needed federal highway aid.

What's not to like? Yet the GOP controlled Legislature has refused to give the GOP governor a vote on the bridge bill.

Lawmakers' refusal to do the public's business might have something to do with the lavish contributions made to many of their campaigns by Manuel Moroun, the billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge. Mr. Moroun also launched a $5 million campaign of false and misleading TV commercials aimed at confusing Michigan citizens.

When Republican lawmakers balk at a proposal that every major chamber of commerce in Michigan supports, something's wrong. Politicians who have taken money from Mr. Moroun deserve to be exposed. Mr. Snyder needs to keep his promise to engage in “relentless positive action” on behalf of the state's economy.

Mr. Moroun should not be allowed to continue to subvert the public interest to protect his private monopoly. Not building the bridge is a path to nowhere. Michigan needs to build it, and watch the dollars come.

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