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Bridge foes say referendum on New International Trade Crossing will be on the November ballot

Jim Wallace

A group that opposes efforts to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor says it’s well on its way to putting that question on the November ballot.

“The People Should Decide Ballot committee” says it’s collected more than 420,000 petition signatures in favor of a voter referendum.

If passed, the measure would implement a constitutional amendment requiring Michigan voters to approve any new international crossings.

Governor Snyder and Canadian officials signed an agreement to build a new crossing just last week. That's after Snyder's efforts to get the project through the state legislature failed last year.

That project has long faced fierce opposition from the Detroit International Bridge Company and the Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge. And in a last-ditch effort to block a new bridge, they’ve turned to this referendum effort.

“The Governor has already shown by his actions that he didn’t listen to the legislature," said Mickey Blashfield, chair of the ballot committee. "And now he faces a more important question: Will he listen to the people?”

Snyder and Canadian officials have suggested language in that agreement would insulate it from a popular vote.

“Like any other contract or agreement, it's intended to be binding and not impaired by other actions,” wrote Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel in an e-mail this week. “Language would have been in there under any circumstance.

But Blashfield dismisses that assertion.

“Last week was nothing other than an announcement, and a signature,” he said. “The horse hasn’t left the barn because the bottom line is, nobody legitimately believes the bridge can be built and operating by the time the election rolls around.”

Blashfield says the group is “pre-verifying” signatures, and he’s confident the measure will make it on the ballot.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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