Grosse Pointe billionaire and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun did not have a good week leading up to the holiday.
First, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear Moroun’s case against the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) lawsuit over the Gateway Project. MDOT says Moroun, or more precisely his Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC), failed to provide freeway connections according to the agreed upon designs and signed contract. Unless Moroun takes the case to Federal court, he’ll have to reconstruct connections to I-75 and I-96 at, perhaps, a cost of millions of dollars. If Michigan invested $230 million in taxpayer dollars on the Gateway project, why couldn’t Matty Moroun meet his part of the bargain? Maybe because Moroun built a duty-free store and gasoline pumps in anticipation of his second span, at least partially on land owned by the City of Detroit. Kind of arrogant and presumptuous, don’t you think, Mr. Moroun?
Second, the Michigan House passed a bill to allow Michigan to finance a second, publicly-owned Detroit River crossing (aka bridge). Ambassador Bridge owner Moroun has been seeking Coast Guard approval for a second span. Nonetheless, he claims a second—Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC)—span is not economically viable. What he means is “I want my own second span, but yours is no good.”
Considering that Detroit-Windsor is the highest volume border crossing between the US and Canada, it’s not prudent to leave a private entity with total control over cross-border traffic. Granted, there is the tunnel, but it’s not really a commercial crossing; trucks use the bridge. And, since Moroun doesn’t want to live up to the terms of the Gateway Project, a public span seems more in the interests of citizens in the region than a second Ambassador Bridge span.
Granted, the Michigan House bill still needs to make it past the Michigan Senate and Gov. Granholm who supports DRIC. Canada has already offered to fund Michigan’s part of the span, to be reimbursed by tolls until paid off. Environmental impact studies are, essentialy, done. This all seems like a no brainer to me.
Previously on the Ambassador Bridge: