ESD Institute Recommends Appointing New Panel

New panel would be a neutral global freight hub panel with 90-day cooling off period.

SOUTHFIELD — As senate hearings continue in Lansing to explore the merits of building a second bridge from Detroit to Windsor, The Engineering Society of Detroit Institute (ESDI) has issued its recommendations for a Global Freight Hub based on a two-day symposium held back in March that convened top leaders in transportation including Matthew Moroun of The Detroit International Bridge Company, Kirk Steudle of MDOT, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, and more than 50 other attendees.

ESDI convened the symposium to provide stakeholders of differing and conflicting opinions a first-ever opportunity to come together under one roof and discuss this critical issue, as well as to provide a plan for a realistic and integrated hub that optimizes trucking, rail, sea, and air systems for Michigan.

“The bridge is only one piece of the puzzle,” said ESDI Co-Director, Christopher J. Webb, JD, FESD. “The intensity of this tactical controversy compels us to conclude that an impartial and strategic examination of an integrated hub is essential in light of our existing and future capacity in Detroit and Port Huron, declining bridge traffic, likely systemic increases in fuel costs, and the planned augmentation of rail freight capacity by Canada.”

Among the symposium’s recommendations is 1) The appointment of a neutral global freight hub panel with a 90-day cooling off period, and 2) The appointment of a neutral economic development panel.

The first recommendation urges Governor Rick Snyder to work with the Prime Minister of Canada to appoint a seven-person panel of independent and neutral experts to examine and then recommend whether or not an integral global freight hub optimizing trucking, rail, air, and sea systems makes sense and if so, provide a master conceptual plan for its implementation. This includes a technical and commercial evaluation of the existing Detroit River Bridge and whether or not a second bridge should be built.

The second recommendation requests that Governor Snyder appoints a seven-person panel of independent and neutral experts to examine the scope and nature of such a hub and how best Michigan could benefit.

“We at the Institute see the hub as a means and not an end,” said Webb. “Providing a realistic and integrated vision for the hub as a unifier and an enabler for Michigan is an essential first step to permit businesses and other engines of economic growth to plan long-term investments and meet competitive market needs.”

For more information regarding the ESD Institute “Building Consensus for Michigan’s Integrated Global Freight Hub” symposium report, or to download a copy of the report, visit www.esdinstitute.netor call 248-353-0735.