Stateline Story

Michigan Governor Renews Push for Canadian Bridge

DETROIT BRIDGE: Michigan lawmakers accomplished a rare feat by completing the state's budget months before the October 1 deadline, but Governor Rick Snyder wants them to go back to work to authorize the building of a new bridge between Detroit and Canada. The Detroit Free Press reports that Snyder renewed his pitch at a retreat near the Mackinac Bridge that links the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. He said a second Detroit crossing would boost trade the way the "Mighty Mac" had.

But the private owners of the Ambassador Bridge, which handles one-quarter of the goods shipped between the United States and Canada, say a second span is not needed and could cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million a year. "Imagine your business is down 45 percent ... and they take more away (with a second bridge)," Matthew Moroun, the son of Ambassador's owner, told MLive.com. "That puts us out of business."

COSTS OF CUTTING: The decision by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to reject federal money for a commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River is itself costing money: $225,000 a month, reports The Star Ledger . The bill is running higher because of interest accruing on the $271 million that the feds want back, plus legal fees piling up as the state fights to keep the money. But one Republican state senator came to Christie's defense. "Put yourself in the governor's shoes," Senator Joseph Pennacchio told the paper. "I wouldn't want to give the money back without a fight, and that's exactly what he's doing."

PROTECTED FUNDS: The budget passed by Connecticut legislators avoided the temptation of using dedicated transportation money for general expenses, something the state has done in the past. But that does not mean the money is safe, reports the Connecticut Mirror . Even though the state's infrastructure is aging, Connecticut faces more immediate problems, including a $300 million hole in the first year of the recently passed budget. "What we've been trying to explain to people who might look at the transportation fund to close those gaps," state Senator Andrew Maynard told the Mirror , "is that we've got an enormous amount of infrastructure improvements to be made."

CHARLOTTE LIGHT RAIL: A proposal to cut funds for the expansion of Charlotte's light rail system appears dead, thanks to the intervention of North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, the Charlotte Observer writes . The state Senate originally did not include the money in its budget; it now has $28 million to extend the Blue Line to UNC Charlotte. The city hopes the money will help convince the federal government to pay for half of the project's $1 billion costs. The state would split the rest with local taxpayers, who pay a 1-cent sales tax for transit.