Deal struck for new bridge linking Detroit and Canada - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Deal struck for new bridge linking Detroit and Canada

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Governor Rick Snyder talks about an agreement with Canada to build a new border crossing across the Detroit River.  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Governor Rick Snyder talks about an agreement with Canada to build a new border crossing across the Detroit River. (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
An overhead view of where the new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor will be built. (buildthisbridge.com) An overhead view of where the new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor will be built. (buildthisbridge.com)
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DETROIT (WJBK) -

With a handshake and the stroke of a pen, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder struck a deal for a new international bridge crossing between Detroit and Canada.  Events on both sides of the border marked the historic agreement linking the two countries.  The project is being billed as a huge job creator for a state still struggling to bounce back from recession.

"We shall launch a truly visionary project, one that will mean jobs and growth in both Canada and the United States.  Today, Governor Snyder and I are proud to announce that we've reached an agreement to build the long awaited Detroit River International Crossing."

There was applause for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his deal with Snyder to build a new bridge linking Detroit and Windsor with direct freeway access.  Right now, $70-billion a year in trade goes over the Ambassador Bridge, but with 8,000 trucks a day, it's a bottleneck.  A new bridge, they say, will decrease delays and increase trade.

"It's a particularly big deal for people who want to go to work, for people who are bridge builders, for people who know how to build roads, for people who need a job," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The new bridge is to be located between Zug Island and Historic Fort Wayne right in the heart of Delray where 250 homes along with businesses and churches would have to be razed to replace them with a new bridge.

"If you're burdening us again with another project, help us.  Help us rebuild the community, new housing, new parks," said one man.

"They're going to build it.  We don't want to just be a neighborhood that just disappears into dust," another said.

There were picketers outside of Cobo both in support of and against a new bridge.

"Support the bridge and the jobs that go with it, so we're supporting the governor," one person said.

"We have no guarantees that those jobs are going to go to Detroiters.  What has the governor done for Detroit?  This is the worst governor we've ever had," said another.

Snyder says the project will generate 10,000 jobs in the next few years.  What's not clear is just how many will go to Michigan.  Some worry many more will go to Canadian workers, but Snyder emphasizes the project won't cost the taxpayers.  Canada is footing the $4- to $5-billion dollar bill.

"This is a project that will not cost Michigan taxpayers any money," Snyder said Friday.

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun has spent millions to kill the deal.  He has lobbied many state legislators to oppose it.

"We didn't believe we needed to go to the legislature.  It wasn't out of offense.  It was because we're not asking for an appropriation.  We're not asking for taxpayer money, and they didn't want to work on the project, so we thought it appropriate to move ahead because there's no time to wait," said Snyder.

The Bridge Company wants the people to vote on it.  Legal challenges are likely, but the prime minister says they won't stand in the way.

"Make no mistake, whatever battles lie ahead, this bridge is going be done."

The prime minister and Snyder do say the revenue that would be generated with this new bridge will pay for it.

Meanwhile, Fox 2 caught up with residents in the Delray area to get their take on what the new span will mean for them.

"To get it back on its feet.  It puts people to work.  They get jobs building the bridge," said one person.

"I think it's a great idea.  I live around here, and I guess I have to sell my house, but I think it's a great idea," said another.

"I don't want to move from Detroit.  I love Detroit," another person told us.  "Personally, I don't like the bridge thing."

One woman told us she would absolutely sell her house.  "There's nothing over here anymore. Why not?  So, yeah, I'm all for it."

We're also heard from organizers of a proposal that, if it's placed on the November ballot, would require Michigan voters to approve the bridge.  They say Snyder needs to come forward and make his best case for that new border crossing.

Mickey Blashfield, director of The People Should Decide Ballot Committee, said, "The Michigan legislature, after reviewing all of the facts, was not convinced.  Now hardworking taxpayers will vote in November whether they trust him.  We believe the people want and deserve to have a vote about such an important issue."

For the record, it is not yet on the ballot. They're still collecting signatures.

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