April 30, 2010 2:00 PM, EDT

Canada Offers Cash to Michigan for New Bridge

Ambassador Bridge — Rebecca Cook for TT
Canada is offering $550 million to help pay for those sections of a proposed new Detroit-Windsor bridge that would be situated on Detroit’s side of the new span.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) announced the offer to state lawmakers during a legislative hearing Thursday.

She was joined there by David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association, who called Canada’s offer “a bold and creative strategy” that helps remove obstacles to building the bridge.

“The government of Canada is committed to build a new bridge crossing at the Windsor-Detroit border, and this funding commitment is another step we are taking to accelerate the start of its construction,” John Baird, Canada's transport minister, said in a statement Friday.

Canada would be repaid from future toll collections. The offer frees Michigan from any financial risk associated with the proposed $5.3 billion bridge to Windsor, Ontario, Granholm said.

The trucking and auto industries, along with other business sectors on both sides of the border, are pressing Michigan legislators adopt measures to allow the project to proceed.

One measure before the legislature would allow Michigan to participate in a public-private partnership to build the bridge. The state has no mechanism for such partnerships.

News of the Canadian offer brought a sharp response from Dan Stamper, president of the Detroit International Bridge Co., owner of the Ambassador Bridge, the existing crossing between the two cities.

The bridge firm is owned by Michigan trucking executive Manuel Moroun, who has waged a protracted legal and political battle to expand his bridge and keep the new one from being built.

“Michigan is not and should not be for sale,” Stamper said in a statement that also said the Canadian offer meant construction jobs on the bridge would go to Canadians.