Members of the Michigan Legislature’s Senate Economic Development Committee said they would extend a series of hearings on whether to advance a plan to build a $3.8 billion, publicly funded bridge spanning the busy trade route between Detroit and Canada.
Lawmakers said they would hold at least five more meetings through October because they still don’t have enough information to determine whether to vote on authorizing legislation despite a series of hearings held over the summer.
The project has divided lawmakers for years. The dynamics of the debate, however, shifted slightly this year when Gov. Rick Snyder became the highest-ranking Republican to support the plan. He has called the bridge one of his top priorities, and earlier this summer crafted the bill to be considered by the committee.
Key to the measure is authority for the state to enter into a public-private partnership to finance and operate the span.
Snyder’s bills would create a new bond-issuing authority that could enter into a public-private partnership for up to 50 years. The authority would then issue 50-year tax-exempt bonds backed solely by project revenue. The legislation bars the issuance of any debt that carries a state moral or general obligation pledge.