Republican Gov. Rick Snyder announced his support Wednesday to build a new bridge across the Detroit River from Michigan to Windsor, Ontario.
Throughout the gubernatorial campaign and before the State of the State address, he had declined to endorse or reject the proposal.
Snyder said he secured a "unique agreement" from the Federal Highway Administration during a visit to Washington last week that will allow the state to count $550 million that Canada has offered for the project toward Michigan's federal match for road funds. He added that Michigan will not take on any debt for the project.
The Detroit International River Crossing project has long been opposed by the private owners of the nearby Ambassador Bridge, who have donated heavily to lawmakers in the past to block the new bridge.
Snyder asked lawmakers to approve the DRIC project, which stalled in the Republican-led Senate last year.
"This project isn't just a Detroit issue. Every farmer and manufacturer in our state can tell you why it's important to have world trade. This new bridge will create jobs, strengthen our economy and help establish Michigan as a hub for global commerce. So let's work together so this opportunity does not slip away," Snyder said.
Democrats quickly embraced Snyder's revival of the Detroit bridge deal and said they would provide votes to make it happen. It appears to have some Republican support, but other members of the GOP said they will await more details of the revamped proposal before deciding. Some question whether traffic volume supports another bridge.
A message was left with an Ambassador Bridge company spokesman seeking comment.
The Ambassador Bridge is owned by Detroit-area billionaire Manuel "Matty" Moroun, who has been battling government entities in the United States and Canada for several years while seeking to build a second span across the Detroit River.
The U.S. Transportation Department, Michigan Department of Transportation, Transport Canada and the Ontario government are part of the Detroit River International Crossing project that calls for a new bridge further south along the river. That bridge would be funded by public and private dollars.
A coalition of business, labor and community leaders backing the DRIC project issued a statement applauding Snyder for his support.
"Construction of the DRIC will bring up to 10,000 jobs and further establish Detroit as an international trade hub. We can't afford further delays or political posturing on a project so critical to our economic future," Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said.
Canadian minister of transport Chuck Strahl called Snyder's support for the crossing a "welcome step."
"Canada is Michigan's largest export destination, as well as its closest trade partner. The new bridge will increase border-crossing capacity and enhance trade at the busiest commercial land border crossing in North America," he said.