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Language approved to put bridge question on the November ballot

Jim Wallace

A state board has approved ballot language proposed by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge.

They hope voters in November say “yes” to the measure that reads, in part: “The People should decide whether state government may construct or finance new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles.”

Matthew Moroun is Vice Chair of the Detroit International Bridge Company. He says the public can decide the ongoing dispute over whether to build a new bridge once and for all.

And he insists the ballot measure isn’t just about the company’s business interests.

“We sat back, and we said…this debate is not going on with the right people," Moroun said this week. "It needs to go on with the actual voters of the state of Michigan. Do they get to have a say in it?”

Governor Snyder and some other state officials wants to build a new public bridge downriver from the Ambassador Bridge. His office has dismissed the referendum effort as a “multi-million dollar smear campaign.”

All of this comes as news to Tom Dasho. He lives in the southwest Detroit neighborhood between the Ambassador Bridge and the proposed new one—which e’s watched deteriorate rapidly over the past few years.

Dasho doesn’t think the question belongs on the ballot. “The state should do their job, build the bridge, put people to work, get people jobs, and keep this community going,” he said. “That’s what they need to do.”

But backers need to jump through a couple more hoops before the measure goes on the ballot—including getting about 325,000 petition signatures.

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.