Michigan voters tossed out Proposal 6 at the polls Tuesday. The controversial ballot measure would have amended the state constitution to restrict the state government's ability to help build international bridges and tunnel crossings. According to the Detroit News, 61 percent of voters did not support the proposal and 31 voters voted for it, with 62 percent of precincts reporting at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The measure would have required approval from a majority of voters in a statewide election and in every municipality where “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located. The votes would have been needed to allow the State of Michigan spend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels. It would have would defined “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” as “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”
The ballot measure was linked to an effort to construct a new bridge over the Detroit River connecting the U.S. and Canada, which is known as the New International Trade Crossing (NITC). Canada has agreed to pay $550 million for Michigan's share of expenses for the construction of the estimated $2.1 billion bridge, as well as holding the state harmless if the tolls don't cover the cost of the bridge.
That crossing has been supported by Gov. Snyder, but is opposed by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun. A committee that encouraged the adoption of Proposal 6, The People Should Decide, said that "The government bridge is not "free." The state has already spent $41 million studying the issue, a new customs plaza will cost U.S. taxpayers (Michiganders included) $263 million, and traffic moving to the NITC will cost the state millions in lost tax and toll revenue at existing crossings" in a blog for The Huffington Post.
Moroun has been decried as a billionaire who spent $31 million on a campaign to keep the NITC from being built -- so he could build his own private bridge. Said Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the U.S., "The New International Trade Crossing has the support of Governor Snyder, the governments of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, the chambers of commerce of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, as well as automobile manufacturers, building trades and steel workers unions and farm organizations. In fact, the only real opposition comes from one company trying to protect its current monopoly on the Ambassador Bridge."
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