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Judge throws out state rep's challenge to new Detroit River bridge
Posted on Friday, July 19 @ 08:38:12 CEST by admin

Trucking News

Lansing — A Detroit mayoral candidate’s lawsuit seeking to block Gov. Rick Snyder’s plans to build a Detroit-to-Windsor bridge has been dismissed by an Ingham County judge.

Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk recently tossed out state Rep. Fred Durhal’s lawsuit challenging the governor’s legal authority to enter into a June 2012 agreement with Canadian officials without the Legislature’s approval.

Snyder bypassed lawmakers last year after they refused to vote to approve Canada’s offer to cover Michigan’s $550 million share of building the six-lane $2.1 billion Detroit River crossing, known as the New International Trade Crossing.

Under the deal, Michigan’s share of the bridge costs will have to be repaid by future toll revenue from motorists and commercial trucks crossing the border.

Durhal’s complaint contended Snyder has violated a constitutional separation of powers and committed the state to eventually paying for the bridge without approval of the Legislature, which controls the purse strings of state government.

But in a ruling from the bench, Durhal said, the judge said Durhal didn’t have standing to bring the legal challenge.

While acknowledging the new bridge will land in southwest Detroit outside of his state House district, Durhal claimed his position on the House Appropriations Committee gave him standing under the presumption Michigan tax dollars may ultimately be spent on the bridge.

“I was a bit surprised by it,” Durhal said of the ruling. “If it had been done in Wayne County, I probably would have been more successful with it.”

Durhal, a Democrat, is running for mayor of Detroit in the August primary, though he’s considered a long shot for being among the two candidates who advance to the November general election. Durhal said he’s still consulting with his attorney, Godfrey Dillard, on whether to appeal the judge’s decision.

Dillard has previously worked for Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who has waged a multimillion dollar political campaign to stop construction of a crossing that would compete for truck traffic with his 86-year-old bridge.

Durhal has denied he sued Snyder at the behest of the billionaire trucking mogul.

“This was not a frivolous lawsuit,” Durhal told The Detroit News.

In April, the Obama administration granted Michigan a presidential permit, clearing the way for bridge planning, engineering and buying land to begin.

A Snyder spokesman Tuesday praised Draganchuk’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit.

“The NITC is all about jobs for Michigan families, so the judge’s decision is welcome news,” Snyder spokesman Ken Silfven said in an email.

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