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Ambassador Bridge referendum effort is a challenge to Governor Snyder

Jim Wallace

It’s no secret the Ambassador Bridge’s owners don’t want the state to build a new bridge between Detroit and Canada.

Now, the Detroit International Bridge Company is trying another tactic to make sure that doesn’t happen: a ballot referendum.

The Bridge Company has proposed language that would require state lawmakers to put any proposed international crossing up for a popular vote first.

Bills authorizing a new international trade crossing stalled in the state legislature last year. But Governor Snyder is committed to the project—and has talked openly about going around the legislature to get it done.

DIBC Vice Chair Matthew Moroun admits going to the ballot is a risk--but he says it’s the right thing to do.

“Do you want to, as a voter and as a taxpayer in this state, have a say on this issue?" Moroun said. "And if you do, you vote yes.”

"If the Governor truly believes in his case, then he has to take it to the people. And then this will provide the mechanism by which he can build a bridge. If they don’t, then he can’t build it.”

Governor Snyder’s office isn’t happy about this.

Snyder spokesman Ken Silfven dismissed the proposed referendum effort--which would need to gather about 325,000 petition signatures by July--as “Another deceptive ploy designed to put the Ambassador Bridge Company’s interests ahead of the state’s best interests.”

“We remain confident the NITC will become a reality in spite of the multimillion dollar smear campaign being waged by opponents,” Silfven wrote in an e-mail.


Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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