FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Angela Vasquez-Giroux: (517) 775-1430
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Lansing – Prior to today’s committee hearings in both state legislative chambers on the proposed New International Trade Crossing bridge to Canada, lawmakers, small business owners and residents declared that they will not support the project unless a community benefits agreement is part of the final deal.
“A new bridge will bring great economic benefits for the region and the state, but for the Delray neighborhood where it would be built, there would be very real impacts that must be addressed,” said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents Delray. “That includes taking steps to ensure that the 43 businesses slated for relocation can continue to be a productive part of the economy and get the support they need to have continued success in a new location.”
Tlaib has sponsored legislation, HB 4635, which would make the development accountable to the community, provide relief from increased noise and air pollution caused by the new bridge, and ensure residents and businesses facing relocation receive the support they need to flourish in their new locations.
Sen. Coleman Young II has sponsored identical legislation in the senate, SB 0379. Similar binding agreements have been used across the country, resulting in positive outcomes for developers and communities alike.
“Too often, major developments like this are a win for everyone but the people most directly impacted – residents like us,” said Debra Williams, a 63 year resident of Delray. “Like most Michiganders, we’re rooting for more jobs and a revitalized state. We’re just asking our lawmakers to put themselves in our shoes. If the bridge were coming to your street, wouldn’t you want to make sure it improved your community?”
In addition to the 43 businesses that would be relocated as a result of the bridge, 693 residents will be forced to relocate from 257 homes. Five churches will be relocated as well, and the business relocations will affect 685 employees.
“These are not minor adjustments to our way of life here in Delray,” said Rev. Jeffrey Baker of St. Pail AME. “Imagine 250 homes in your neighborhood disappearing, and you’ll get a sense of the magnitude of the impacts on this community. That’s why it’s so important to make this project accountable to the community, and to make sure the development leaves a lasting positive impact.”
Along with the risks of relocation, increased truck traffic will mean more air pollution and more health risks for DelRay residents. As a result of the bridge’s proposed location, truck traffic is projected to increase 128% by 2035.
“Diesel pollution emissions near our schools, homes and playgrounds will increase. That much we know,” said Sarah Mulkoff, coordinator of the Michigan Diesel Clean-Up Campaign. “While the bridge will bring many incredible opportunities to the region, it would be irresponsible to ignore the negative impacts. With a community benefits agreement, we can maximize the positive impacts, and minimize the negative – and that’s really what this community has been fighting for all along.”