Trump Unity Bridge to visit Dream Cruise

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
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A 2004 Yukon XL with an attached motorcycle trailer towing “Trump” in large white letters intends to travel alongside the Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday.

Rob Cortis, of Livonia places flags on his Trump Unity Bridge.

Behind the wheel is Livonia resident, Rob Cortis, who calls his mobile the Trump Unity Bridge.

“It’s not a float, it’s a presidential patriotic unity bridge with messages that we want President Trump to work on,” said Cortis, 55, a retiree who worked in catering. “We want education, healthcare, equality and keeping jobs in America.”

This year, the Woodward cruise has increased its security measures and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has mandated vehicle restrictions on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., one of which impacts Cortis.

The restrictions cover commercial vehicles, those over 10,000 pounds and bar trailers between Eight Mile to the loop in Pontiac.

Cortis said fully-loaded, his bridge weighs approximately 9,180 pounds. However, he has a registered motorcycle trailer attached to hold it.

The Unity Bridge took to the road in October 2016 and has traveled over 40,000 miles in its coast to coast boarder to boarder tour so far, Rob Cortis said.

Ferndale Police Sergeant Baron Brown said he became aware of Cortis’ vehicle through social media and will hold him to the same standard as all other vehicles.

“We don’t know if his vehicle is over the weight limit, but we do so by checking the registration and he can’t have a trailer attached,” Brown said. “If so, we’re going to make contact in form of a traffic stop. We’re going to be cool about it and ask them to leave Woodward. If they don’t, we will issue a ticket.”

Cortis said Friday he doesn’t think he will be turned away from the event.

“We're looking for a place to park because we know people are going to want to stop and take photos with it,” he said of the bridge. “There are usually people who cheer for us and others just ignore but never anything bad.”

If an incident or ruckus occurs between the Trump-related vehicles and attendees, Brown said authorities are prepared.

“His message is irrelevant to us. We are not trying to limit anyone’s First Amendment right; the only action we would base any enforcement on is the law that is set,” Brown said.

The Unity Bridge is 50 feet long, 13 feet and 6 inches tall with white block letters and a human-sized Statue of Liberty tailgating the back. It took to the road in October 2016 and has traveled over 40,000 miles in its coast to coast border to border tour so far, Cortis said.

Cortis has owned the bridge since 1985 and originally envisioned it would serve as the backdrop for wedding celebrations and photographs. It made news after it was stolen from his property in 2014.

Later, Cortis said he was inspired to transform it into a Unity Bridge by a speech from Pope Francis saying Americans should “build bridges, not walls.”

Cortis said he’s covered costs of the Unity Bridge on his own but has been receiving donations during his tour and said: “We’ve had nothing but support.”

“We had six flat tires and leaking oil and the mechanics helped us out free of charge to keep it on the road,” Cortis said.

Cortis’ brother, Mike Cortis, will also be cruising Saturday in a decorated 1977 Weinberger Camper weighing about 9,000 pounds. The brothers started a Facebook event page inviting attendees to decorate their vehicles in support of the president.

They will gather at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Meijer parking lot at 20401 Haggerty Road in Northville and depart with a Trump train of cars at 10 a.m.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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