For the past 10 years, the number of cars and trucks passing from Michigan to Ontario dropped by half.
The ad cites a Detroit News story from January on Ambassador Bridge traffic as the source for this claim. But statistics provided by the Detroit International Bridge Co. to Tollroads News show overall traffic fell 41 percent between 2000 and 2010, a slightly smaller decline than cited in the ad.
Much of the decline can be attributed to a near collapse of the domestic auto industry and a severe economic recession that gripped Michigan for most of the past decade. But Ambassador Bridge traffic jumped 11.4 percent between 2009 and 2010 as the economy climbed out of the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Some bureaucrats and politicians still want to build a new $2 billion bridge.
More than “some.” Gov. Rick Snyder supports the building of a new crossing between Detroit and Windsor that he is calling the New International Trade Crossing. The project previously was known as the Detroit River International Crossing or DRIC.
The Canadian government has called the proposed bridge its most important infrastructure priority. And a website for a group supporting the bridge's construction cites dozens of businesses, chambers of commerce and local government officials that support the project.
The ad also says that the cost of the bridge is “$2 billion ... and climbing.” The estimated cost is $2.1 billion, not including highway improvements on the Canadian side. But even if the bridge gets quick approval by the Michigan Legislature, the start of construction could be a couple of years away. And cost overruns in such large projects are common.
They know we don’t need it. They even know it will lose money and stick Michigan taxpayers with $100 million every year.
Snyder says the deal is structured so that there will be no cost to Michigan taxpayers. Canada has agreed to pay Michigan’s estimated cost of $550 million.
Roy Norton, Canadian consul general in Detroit, told the Truth Squad that the $550 million would be paid to the bridge contractor, not the state. Canada will recoup its investment through toll revenue and will assume any losses that may occur.
“It’s structured in a way that Michigan can’t have any liability,” Norton said. “If you can’t have any liability, it can’t cost you $100 million a year.”
In Michigan, politicians have a bridge they want to sell you, a bridge they can’t afford with money we don’t have. Tell them: no deal.”
Text on the screen of the add cites a partial quote from a supposedly secret Michigan Department of Transportation e-mail that says, "(T)olls will not raise sufficient funds to build the project.”
But Snyder and the Canadian government repeatedly have insisted that the proposed bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers nothing, even if toll revenue isn’t sufficient to pay for the bridge.
The ad, part of a reported $400,000 television campaign, was undertaken by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who wants to build his own privately financed bridge next to the 86-year-old Ambassador Bridge.
After intense lobbying that included hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to lawmakers by the Moroun family last year, the Legislature voted against proceeding with a publicly financed bridge. But Snyder surprised many when he voiced strong support for it during his State of the State speech in January.
Moroun also has been unable to get approval from the Canadian government to connect his proposed bridge to Windsor, Ontario, because of environmental and traffic reasons.
His ad exaggerates the decline in bridge traffic and fails to acknowledge the boost in traffic volume last year as Michigan started to recover from the Great Recession.
The ad also attempts to scare Michigan residents by saying that the bridge could cost them $100 million a year.
Major public works projects do have a history of unforeseen construction problems and large cost overruns. But it’s hard to understand why Snyder and the Canadian government would risk their credibility by insisting the bridge won’t cost Michigan taxpayers a penny.
MICHIGAN TRUTH SQUAD CALL: Foul.
Foul for using misleading statistics and claiming, without proof, that the New International Trade Crossing will cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million a year.