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Little support for twin span, but Ambassador Bridge owners still push to keep permit

Jim Wallace

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge are trying to renew an environmental permit for a proposed twin span.

The twin span idea has been rejected by both Governor Snyder and Canadian officials. They’ve already signed a deal to build a new bridge, the so-called New International Trade Crossing, further downriver.

But the Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge, is trying to derail that deal through a ballot referendum. And since still they're requested a new permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the DEQ must go through the process.

Andy Hartz, a district supervisor with the DEQ’s water resources division, said the department approved an initial permit in 2007, but it expired in January of this year.

“In initial conversations email exchanges with their consultant, it looks like they’re applying for exactly what was approved previously,” Hartz said.

Hartz noted this permit only some very specific environmental impacts. “Any fisheries or wildlife resources, water quality issues, the disruption of contaminated sediment…things like that,” he said. It would not include analysis of issues like air pollution from idling trucks, or the type of materials used to build the new span.

Hartz says the department will schedule a public hearing for next month, and should make a decision soon after that.

Even if the permit is re-approved, the twin span proposal still lacks other major permits on both sides of the border.

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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