Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the existing Ambassador Bridge, had previously committed to work on a second bridge span. The sole remaining hurdle is an environmental assessment process. That new span would reportedly take less time to build than the bridge Gov. Snyder is advocating.
Wolfram also said that while the governor boasts of new jobs the new bridge could generate, that job creation would be offset by decreased revenues at the other three bridges.
“Imagine that the Canadian government gave the state of Michigan $1 billion to hire Michigan citizens to build 1,000 hotels in downtown Detroit,” Wolfram explained. “We would see all the workers building the hotels, and it would seem like we were providing jobs for lots of Michigan citizens.”
“But in the end we would have driven out of business all the existing hotels. … And the resources used to build the new hotels — including the labor of the workers who built the hotels — would have been taken away from some other construction.”
Gov. Snyder has declined Blashfield’s requests for a meeting to discuss the bridge proposal, so he launched a citizen petition to put a voter initiative on the ballot in November. The measure would require any bridge effort to be approved by Michigan voters.
Last week The People Should Decide, the ballot committee behind the effort, said it had gathered more than 420,000 signatures. It needed fewer than 320,000 to qualify.
Blashfield told TheDC that he saw a large surge in petition signatures after Snyder decided to bypass the legislature and take his bridge deal to the Canadian government instead.
Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan free-market think tank, agreed that Snyder’s decision to bypass the legislature was “disturbing.” But he said that if Snyder found state lawmakers unreasonable, there’s no reason he couldn’t have put the bridge initiative on the ballot himself.
“If the Legislature is indeed the problem, Michigan’s Constitution provides for an initiative process,” McHugh said, “This allows someone to bypass recalcitrant legislators and appeal directly to the people, preserving the democratic process.”