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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

State Senate committee set to vote new international bridge to Canada

Windsor Detroit from the Ambassador Bridge                 Image via Flickr
A state Senatorial committee will vote on legislation authorizing a new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor in Lansing, October 19th. 

The Senate Economic Development Committee scheduled vote occur after months of hearings and disagreements on if $2-billion Project Bridge should be added.

Questions remain about how much support the bill has in either the committee or the full Senate. For the measure to move forward, its’ widely believed that strong Democratic support would be needed. Gov. Rick Snyder (R), a major backer of the project is pushing forward, citing that he "look forward to building a bridge," to the Detroit Free Press.

Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) said to the Detroit Free Press late Tuesday, that a committee vote wouldn’t have been scheduled if "we didn't think we could move the process along."

A multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign mounted by the Ambassador's Bridge private owners, has deepened public skepticism about the bridge project and made it difficult for some lawmakers to support it.

Back in Lansing on the record among Republicans, only two representatives of the Michigan’s Senate R. Richardville and Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell) has expressed openly support for the legislation. As a member of the Economic Development Committee, state Senator Hildenbrand stated to The Freep, he is willing to vote for the bill if he is convinced that their are protections for Michigan taxpayers.

With Republican verbalized support for the bridge legislation limited at best, the measure would require votes from Democrats on the committee and later before the full Senate, to reach a majority.

Many Democrats have said their support will be conditioned on the inclusion of community benefits for residents of the neighborhood, which would be disrupted by the bridge construction.

Benefits include measures which could set the level of property reimbursement for homeowners dislocated by the project and mandate hiring or job training for some of those affected. None of these proposals are comprised within the current measure pending in the state Senate committee.

Sen. Richardville spokeswoman Amber McCann said Democratic proposal would likely they would be addressed in part, before work on the entire bill is completed.

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