Critics Express Concern for Potential Mackinac Bridge Authority Ownership of Enbridge Tunnel

On Thursday, The Mackinac Bridge Authority held their first meeting since the state reached an agreement with Enbridge.

Per the agreement, the company will construct a utility tunnel to house a new pipeline under the straits of Mackinac.

Construction would take seven to ten years to complete, and the existing Line 5 would be in operation for the next 10 years.

The state wants the Mackinac Bridge Authority to oversee the operation of and own the tunnel.

The board passed on taking a vote and making a decision on that, Thursday.

The state maintains they are well-equipped to take on the responsibility, but the proposal has been met with controversy.

It was packed house in St. Ignace.

An attorney for the Snyder administration was in attendance, she says they wanted to get involved with the Bridge Authority because they are bipartisan and well-respected around the state.

Some of the public speakers said if the MBA were to partner with Enbridge, it would ruin that reputation.

“You should reject Enbridge as an unfaithful and unworthy partner for the state of Michigan. The Mackinac bridge authority has a partner and that is us, we the people of the state of Michigan,” FLOW Deputy Director Kelly Thayer, said.

One by one critics of the plan addressed the Mackinac Bridge Authority Board.

“It is a blatant effort to pull this issue away from the incoming governor and park it in the bridge authority to make sure it can’t be undone,” Bay Mills Indian Community Chairman Bryan Newland, said.

“It has the potential to seriously compromise its effectiveness in managing Michigan’s single largest asset,” Former MBA Chairman Bill Gnodtke, said.

Gnodtke received a standing ovation, he had strong words for his former colleagues.

“I’m not getting involved in whether Line 5 is good or Line 5 is bad, or whether a tunnel is good or bad. To me the overriding question as it relates to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, is, is it good for the authority? And I absolutely do not believe it is,” Gnodtke, explained.

Enbridge thinks otherwise.

“Partnership is key and is a good thing to move this tunnel project forward, we believe its a good time now to build for the future and that’s what this tunnel project does its build for the future, its keeps the pipeline safe and continue to protect the great lakes and continue to deliver energy to Michigan,” Enbridge Communications Strategist Ryan Duffy, said.

The board is scheduled to meet again in February.