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Tim Skubick: What the heck ever happened to the bridge?

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Hey, what the heck ever happened to da bridge? You know the one Gov. Rick Snyder brokered behind the backs of state lawmakers as he and Canada decided to spend $2 billion on a second span between Hockeytown and Hockey Country. (Detroit and Windsor for you non-sport fans.)

Well the subject did pop up in his fourth SOS  but it got only a gloss-over as the governor only said you should look for "progress" in 2014.  In an attempt to stay positive all the time, even when the facts don't warrant it, he conveniently  left out the most important part of the story: The bridge may be toast.

Who says?

None other than the Michigan Department of Transportation director who did not use that exact phrase but he did say this, "No plaza.  No bridge."

Meaning what?

For every bridge between the border with a foreign country, there must be a U.S. Customs Plaza that checks on everyone returning to the United States. And so far Washington has refused to funnel the $250 million to build it.

Kirk Stuedle and his boss the governor are concerned although the governor does not use the phrase no bridge, no plaza, but he sorta concedes without the plaza you can't have a bridge.  A distinction without a difference.

"This is a major piece moving forward," Mr. Stuedle begins his revealing analysis.  "It's certainly going to slow it (the project) down…It's an issue that's got to get resolved soon…It's a major sticking issue."

Sounds pretty dire, don't ya think?

The director is at a loss as to why the Obama administrations would allocate the money into the border crossing budget but somehow the Congress and the U.S. Customs agency have bulked at writing the check.

The MDOT director admits the state could foot the bill but if lawmakers didn't approve the bridge in the first place, why the heck would they spend a quarter of million in the second place?  They wouldn't and might gloat that they are finally getting even with the governor for his end run around them.

As for why the stalemate in D.C. nobody in this town is saying it, but you don't suppose Matty has anything to do with this delay?

You know.  Matty Moroun, the arch-enemy of one Richard Dale Snyder and owner of the only bridge between the two countries.  And let's just say M.M. doesn't want the competition and will stop at nothing to block the second span.

Is it possible he's convinced key congresspersons to sit on the plaza moola?

But you could also argue that some Democrats in Washington may be blocking the money because they fear it could help Mr. Snyder in his own re-election bid.

Can't you see it now?  The governor shows up with shovel in hand, let's say next October, one month before the election, for the launch of the bridge project.  He could boast, although he says he does not take credit, that 20,000 jobs are being created with a whole host of them aimed at union workers in vote rich southeast Michigan.  That's quite a photo opt.

For his part Mr. Stuedle was asked if the lack of funds was a deal-breaker and he opines, "That's a significant issue we need to get through (and) we're not there yet."

He notes this is "dragging on" and meanwhile the upbeat governor says he now has the attention of Congress.

Did you ever try to build a plaza with "attention?"

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