Mackinac Bridge Authority Dropped from Line 5 Tunnel Plan, Lawmakers Work to Draft New Bill

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Governor Snyder is dropping his fairly controversial proposal, the Mackinac Bridge Authority will not oversee nor own the planned utility tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac.

Lawmakers are scrapping the related senate bill and are working on new legislation.

The state and Enbridge reached an agreement in October, under it, the energy company will pay for and construct an underwater utility tunnel that would house Line 5’s replacement pipeline and future utility lines.

The governor originally wanted the Mackinac Bridge Authority to oversee its construction and own the tunnel but that plan was met with a wide-range of criticism and it during this lame duck session, lawmakers took notice.

“I heard from [constituents], they didn’t want the bridge authority doing it, they’d like another body to do so, I agree with that. We are finding that compromise,” 37th District State Senator Wayne Schmidt, said.

Schmidt says lawmakers in Lansing are working to draft a new bill that would put a separate group in charge of the planned tunnel.

“Over the weekend and last couple days there have been lots of negotiations going on to make sure there is another body that can do the oversight of the tunnel, both construction and management of it, so I’m very happy with it. The pipeline is needed and so is the protection of the Great Lakes, by doing this, we get both,” Schmidt, added.

“The word has gotten out and I think the people have spoken,” Former Mackinac Bridge Authority Chairman Bill Gnodtke, said.

Gnodtke has been one of the most outspoken critics of the original plan.

He’s happy with Monday’s announcement.

“We felt it took away from the mission and so this is really good news,” Gnodtke, said.

“The Mackinac Bridge Authority should not be the recipient of this tunnel so we are really pleased with all the environmental groups, with the tribes, and the business groups and the support we’ve gotten from men and women on the street, who have all said keep the bridge the way it is. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, that’s kind of it in a nutshell,” Gnodtke, added.

Lawmakers plan to introduce the new bill Tuesday.