Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, April 19, 2010

BLOGexclusive: Michigan DRIC's 10,000 Jobs---Is It All Smoke And Mirrors

We saw this headline and storyline

  • "Supporters of bridge plan say it'll bring jobs

    The importance of this is all about jobs," Granholm said, citing 10,000 direct construction jobs as the direct result of the [DRIC] project."

But have you seen this headline yet in any of the Michigan media:

  • "Attackers of DRIC bridge plan say it'll cost jobs

    The tragedy of this is all about the loss of jobs, the DRIC opponents say, citing about 10,000 construction jobs annually as a direct result of the [DRIC] project."

Of course not. No one has put the facts together except the BLOGMeister! Now you will learn why 10,000 people will lose their jobs due to DRIC because of startling facts never learned until the DRIC news conference. Read on.

The media reports of the DRIC Press
Conference were fascinating with new stuff suddenly appearing that shoots down a lot of what DRIC had said before. All of this really for just one person too:

  • "The clear goal of the event was to mount enormous pressure on the Republicans who control the Senate, specifically Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), who has steadfastly resisted the DRIC project in favor of allowing the Ambassador to build a second span."

I also liked how the Bridge Company pulled an endrun around DRIC by scheduling a press conference later in the day and took away a lot of the DRIC media coverage by their rebuttal of what was said earlier.

Poor L. Brooks, so out of touch. So much misinformation being spewed out. I would not want him lobbying for my side of the debate

  • "It was made very clear to me that a second span would not be welcome in downtown Windsor — congestion, pollution," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. "If it's not going there, then the DRIC is the only game in town, or we lose out to New York."

Please, could someone please give L. Brooks a map of Windsor or a GPS device already so he won't get hopelessly lost and can tell where the Ambassador Bridge is located. Downtown, he is thinking of the Tunnel! And tell him that the Buffalo competition is a myth that MDOT has shot down years ago.

As for Jobs, Jobs, Jobs being so important for Michigan so that DRIC must be built now (as if the Ambassador Bridge people would not hire people for their project), that is a new one for MDOT. Here is what they said before were the objectives of the project. Look hard for the word JOBS:

Detroit River International Crossing Study Public Forum
Introduction of Project to the Private Sector

Capacity and redundancy, matters already disproved by facts, were the reasons for DRIC NOT jobs! These guys make it up as they go along.

Granholm said. "Let's get 'er done!" Terrific sentiment but where has she been for all these years.

Except, what's the hurry. Here is what is being proposed that the Governor does not seem to know about as shown in the SEMCOG data:

  • Start date: 2021-2025 not now
  • Not funded by a P3 but by revenue bonds secured by future tolls
  • The bonds are Michigan General Obligation bonds so taxpayers are on the hook.

Here is what DRIC said their schedule was to the private sector and notice the difference:

Which schedule is correct? MDOT would not lie to the private sector and get everyone upset with them would they? Someone seems to be mistaken.

Here is something that I had never heard before and wonder if the Legislators have. To set this up, here is what I saw in Crains:

  • "The cash-strapped Michigan Department of Transportation, a partner in DRIC and under criticism because it has been forced to cut back road projects while pushing for DRIC."

Then AP reported:

  • "A combination of federal funds, bonds and $100 million in state transportation dollars would be needed to build Michigan's portion of the bridge. User fees would repay the debt."

Maybe I missed it but I don't remember any State money being mentioned before to be used for this project. It was always said that tolls would pay for it:

  • "We estimate that the U.S. cost of construction will range from $900 million to $1.5 billon.” said Bill Shreck, M-DOT communication director. “This is the cost for construction and right of way acquisition and it includes the crossing, plaza and connection. Bridge tolls will be used to cover the cost of the project.”

In the press Release for the DRIC meeting, it was written:

  • "The new bridge will be a publicly owned. Bridge tolls will be used to repay the private developer/financier, much the same way as other toll roads or bridges."

Here is what the private sector was shown:

Nothing there about $100M.

But all is ok. According to MDOT's Captain Kirk:

  • "that money could be rolled into the financing, which would be repaid through bridge tolls, meaning in the end the state would have no upfront costs."

Roll up the $60m spent so far on DRIC studies, roll up another unexpected $100M, roll up cost inflation, roll up P3 profits and we've just increased tolls by a few extra dollars to make OTA's David Bradley's trucking members really whinge!

That assumes that there will be a P3 financing and that anyone will use the DRIC bridge if built since its tolls might be 4 times higher than that of the Ambassador Bridge! Unless Michigan taxpayers will subsidize it.

What is going on here? When did that $100M appear? Read this and wonder at how the MDOT people can actually look Legislators in the face:

  • "From Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2011, we are looking at being $84 million short in state revenue, and that will cost us $475 million in federal funding,” said Nick Schirripa, communications representative for the MDOT Southwest region. “So we’re looking at roughly $550 million short for the 2011 year. That number only increases over the next three years.”

    Last month, MDOT released an updated draft of its 2010-2014 Five-Year Transportation Program, in which it will delay 243 projects statewide if that funding is lost. Also, the reduced highway program is estimated to support an average of 7,778 jobs a year between 2011 and 2014, down from 17,070 in 2010."

The difference is about 10,000 jobs per year!

They cannot come up with $84M but can come up with $100M for DRIC. Amazing. Interestingly, the State would lose about 10,000 jobs a year by not building 243 projects and how many more by using $100M of scarce funds for DRIC.

Why not save jobs by using $84M for those 243 projects and Bridge Company expenditures on their project for toll credits! Seems like a winner and perfectly logical to me.

Here's the irony:

  • "Stamper attacked Granholm, saying the governor flies all over the world "looking for jobs for Michigan, and then comes to Detroit and tries to take away business from the best run, privately owned bridge in the world."

Finally, you had to listen to Dan Stamper rip apart what DRIC claimed. I listened in via a meeting conference call. It was the best I had ever heard him. He was in a really fighting mood as you can tell from reading his introductory remarks:

  • “FACTS ARE PESKY THINGS” and legitimacy may ultimately prove right from wrong.

    While the DRIC continues to hold GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES, they forget to tell what they lack to accomplish their goal.

    While the State and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES about all the things that DRIC has, they forget to tell you the following:

    DRIC has no Congressional approval

    The Ambassador Bridge has Congressional and Parliamentary Approval.

    DRIC claims they have EPA approval, they have had the luxury of approving themselves --- They didn’t tell you it is being challenged Community Groups as well as DIBC.

    The Ambassador Bridge has filed all environmental studies and the US Coast Guard has publicly acknowledged the “FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT” and the only delay is Government red tape (by the same bureaucrats that manage the DRIC)

    DRIC claims they have approval of their EIS in Canada they again are attempting to approve themselves --- They didn’t tell you that it is being challenged by Sierra Club.

    The Ambassador Bridge has filed all environmental studies in Canada and again the only delay is Government red tape (again by the same bureaucrats that manage the DRIC)

    DRIC claims they are ready to go---They didn’t tell you that they own no land in Detroit and that they have to condemn 250 homes, 50 businesses and multiple non-profits and churches.

    The Ambassador Bridge owns all land need except for less than one fourth of an acre on City owned park that has been closed for more than a decade and that the city had signed an agreement to sell it at one time.

    DRIC claims Canada will not allow The Ambassador Bridge to land in Windsor—

    The Ambassador BRIDGE NEWS FLASH we have already landed and built the landing for the Enhancement Bridge with approval from Canada.

    DRIC claims that 17 traffic lights separate the 401 highway and the Ambassador Bridge.

    The Windsor Essex Parkway that is part of DRIC connects 401 directly toward the Ambassador Bridge and eliminates all but three traffic signals.

    DRIC claims they are ready to go—They still are faced with attempting to build over salt mines and hazardous material.

    The Ambassador Bridge is building on solid bed rock with 80 years of history supporting the current bridge.

    DRIC claims that a new bridge is needed now due to traffic increases

    Ambassador Bride traffic even with the uptick of the first quarter of 2010 over 2009 (lets not forget that the auto industry was mostly shut down in 2009) is only at 1987 levels.

    DRIC claims they are ready to go and will put 10,000 folks to work in 2010--- They didn’t tell you that in a SEMGOG report MDOT states that construction won’t begin until after 2021.

    DRIC claims they need a P3 partnership to make a go of their bridge

    The Ambassador Bridge needs no partner or taxpayer money for the Enhancement Project.

    DRIC claims Ambassador Bridge has no support.

    The Ambassador Bridge and MDOT received full support for the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project that included as the first priority to allow for the second span. This support was in written form from the Ontario and from the City of Windsor and Detroit.

    While the State and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES the Ambassador Bridge continues to employ folks and create JOBS/

    What we all heard today was a contradiction of statements.

    The Governor claims that the DRIC will be built with someone else’s money “NOT TAXPAYERS MONEY.”

    But, then she is asking again for legislation to allow MDOT to continue to move forward with TAXPAYER money on top of the $33 million of TAXPAYER MONEY that has already been spent.

    While the States and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES The Ambassador Bridge continues to construct needed infrastructure to the border.

    While the States and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES The Ambassador Bridge continues to operate the best BORDER CROSSING IN NORTH AMERICA.

Darn, Dan should have added in the Presidential Permit as well that the Ambassador Bridge does not need and DRIC does. Do you really think that Secretary Clinton is going to help out Canada after what the US Ambassador to Canada said about wait times dropping, what her Department said before in their closed door session with DRIC and what she said in Ottawa about the border! I hardly think so.

And what was the effect on Senator Cropsey? Was he impressed with all of this pressure errrr attention:

  • "But Mr. Cropsey fired back...

    “It’s not that I’m being unreasonable,” he said. “I think it’s asking questions the taxpayers are asking that the governor hasn’t come up with any answers for.”

    Further, Mr. Cropsey said, “It really surprises me that Brooks Patterson would be out there pushing for a massive spending increase for a Michigan Department of Transportation that has been so inept in its spending that it’s obviously going to call for a massive tax increase.”

    On the overall project, Mr. Cropsey said he is skeptical of public-private partnerships, saying some have gone bankrupt in recent years, putting the state at risk of having to cover the costs should the same happen with the DRIC.

    Mr. Cropsey also questioned MDOT’s $100 million upfront cost estimate, saying the department has a long history of grossly underestimating costs. And for all the talk of the need to build the bridge for jobs, actual construction is a decade away, he said, meaning no immediate economic impact...

    “I want a vote because I want every politician in Lansing to be on the record as to whether they support the biggest boondoggle in Michigan history,” he said."

Perhaps Sandra could make her killer bacon and cheese quiche to impress him!