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April 20, 2010 11:00 AM, EDT

New Detroit Bridge Backers Want Public-Private Partnership Legislation

Backers of a proposed new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, are pressing Michigan state legislators to act on measures that could move the project into the design and construction phase as early as this year.

The new bridge — a joint venture between Canada and Michigan known as the DRIC, for Detroit River International Crossing — would produce 10,000 construction jobs and 25,000 permanent jobs, supporters said. 



Some 20 investment groups have responded to a notice the state issued in January in order to gage the interest in a public private partnership for the $5.3 billion project, said Bill Schreck, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Bridge backers want state lawmakers to act on legislation to allow public private partnerships. Michigan does not currently allow P3s, as such agreements are known.

Currently, the main crossing from Detroit to Ontario is the Ambassador Bridge, owned by Detroit trucking and development billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun.

He has waged a legal and political battle to stop the DRIC and build a second span alongside his existing one.

Dan Stamper, president of the Ambassador firm, said DRIC backers are government bureaucrats who are helping Canada realize its goal to own and control all border crossings.

“I would say this whole debate has been driven by Canada and [its] lust to own the Ambassador Bridge,” Stamper said.