More than 80 people, including members of Michigan’s Senate Economic Development Committee, embarked Monday on a fact-finding tour of proposed sites for a controversial plan to build a publicly funded bridge over the Detroit River.
Critics and supporters of the $3.8 billion bridge — dubbed the New International Trade Crossing — rode the tour bus. Manuel “Matty” Maroun, the reclusive owner of the only current bridge spanning the busy trade route, was also on hand, according to local press reports.
Lawmakers are expected to vote this fall on legislation introduced by Gov. Rick Snyder that would pave the way for the new bridge. Key to the legislation is authority for the state to enter into a public-private partnership to finance and operate the span.
The Senate Economic Development Committee will be the first to consider the measures.
The bridge would provide a second crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Canada, along what is the busiest trade route in the nation. The project would require a partnership between the governments of Michigan, Windsor, and the United States.
Snyder’s bills would create a new bond-issuing authority that would be allowed to 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 the general obligation or moral pledge of Michigan.