Good thing you read my BLOG for information about the Lansing hearings. Nothing in the Star about it today.
The hearings are over for the time being. To be honest, I am not sure what will come out of the hearings or how it will be done since I do not understand the US committee process.
I do know that one of the co-Chairmen stated that he wants to suspend the DRIC process and a number of his colleagues are concerned about what is going on. (Several others obviously, are supportive of the process). But there were no votes, no decisions so I am not certain what happens next.
I also know that the City of Windsor is being viewed as the party responsible for a good part of the border problem. It is nothing more than a continuation of what first was revealed publicly to Americans at the Joint Councils meeting months ago when Eddie talked about the $300 million for roads sitting around with nothing being built. In Michigan, where money for roads is scarce, that is shocking!
What came though though loud and clear to me at least is that MDOT is a proponent for being the owner of the new crossing! At the same time, it has the responsibility for determining the fate of other proponents like DRTP and the Ambassador Bridge Co. both in the DRIC process and in any private EA process. It is like having your competitor being your judge and jury.
Wasn't there supposed to be a committee set up respecting the Governance issue? If so, I guess that they must have made their decision already without asking anything of anyone and without telling anyone what their decision is.
What I found very troubling is hearing experienced Legislators coming out after four hearings saying that they are more confused than when this all started and that they had more questions that needed answering. Why is that? Why couldn't MDOT give simple explanations to simple financial questions as an example. I am sure that this is not the first project ever started to which matching funds are granted. Surely by now, they would have some real good estimates as to costs and how the money would be obtained for building the project. I did not hear that. Rather I heard that it will be paid off by tolls as if they were a private company and that they would work hard to act as if they were a private company to reduce State spending. Frankly, I would have been very annoyed if I were a Legislator.
It was a "he said, she said" atmosphere with MDOT commenting on certain aspects of what other proponents said in previous sessions with no "testing" of their response.
I got so tired of people saying that they were so pleased with how open and transparent the process was and how nice MDOT were in coming out to visit. What else can they do? They know what their legal obligation is so they are merely carrying it out. The proper question to ask is whether what they are doing publicly is real or just to placate the masses! Just remember the assurances given with the boat trip and what happened almost immediately thereafter when the Governor made her decision out of the blue. Remember the "closed door session" where real decisions were being made and were never revealed respecting the Presidential Permit and the "concurrence" that was asked for and not given.
Some rather strong language was used. The idea of spending $3 billion of Government monwey when a private investor would spend $600 million of its money was called "typical Government madness," especially when traffic volumes were declining. There was a desire to spend less on "extravagant planning." The best sentence I heard was "Capacity without infrastructure does not alleviate congestion." There certainly were questions about traffic projections and the seeming desire to rush. The question about Redundancy I thought was effectively answered when one Legislator referred to the Pentagon that was attacked on 9/11. He said that the US did not build a second one but increased security
Windsor was again targetted for not spending the $300 million on the road to the border and Canada was targetted for perhaps acting unreasonably and making Detroit suffer if "condemnation" ie expropriation was to take place again. Again, there was a complaint that no numbers were provided on the number of homes to be taken.
The big question that was never answered satisfactorily as far as I was concerend by MDOT was why should Michigan spend $1.5 billion when they already invested heavily in the Ambassador Gateway project that was designed to accommodate a Twinned Bridge.
Did MDOT survive to live for another day? I think yes. Are their days numbered? I think yes as well. When a co-Chairman says that spending $1.3 Billion for a new crossing is not the best use of state and federal money when the funds could be used for Michigan roads, MDOT should be concerned.
Did the hearings accomplish anything. Clearly, the whole border issue gained a lot more publicity than it otherwise would. It raised flags about a process that seems to be wasting huge amounts when it is not needed and there are private investors around and matching grants available.
I think that Windsor was the big loser. Our roads became the front and centre impediment with us not willing it seemed to spend the $300 million on our roads thereby forcing Detroit to be negatively impacted. Such a negative impression of Windsor will hurt us in the long run respecting regional co-operation.
I suspect that action will be taken-----whether it goes as far as to end DRIC I do not know. When so many Legislators are concerned and so much money is at stake in a State that is having difficulty, not acting after four hearings would be politically too dangerous in an election year!