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Will A New Bridge Benefit Detroit?

February 01 2011 | 11 comments

With all its grandeur, the Ambassador Bridge is 81 years old.   It’s the busiest international border crossing in the world. And local millionaire businessman Matty Maroun holds the purse strings.

Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, says Maroun and his company have a quasi monopoly with the Ambassador Bridge

Experts say in 30 years car traffic will rev up 128%.  Truck traffic will boom 70% higher.  A new international bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor is now on the fast track.

Baruah says, “If I was a betting man and I’m not, I would say absolutely it’s going to happen, the governor said he was all in for the new bridge and we need it for the economy.”

Governor Rick Snyder has secured $550million in funding from Canada for construction of the U.S. portion, plus a matching grant from the Federal Highway Administration.  It’s all expected to be paid back with tolls from the bridge.

Baruah says it’s a no-brainer, “In the outside chance the tolls don’t repay back these loans the worst thing we have to do is pay back at a future date at a discounted rate.”

Experts say a new bridge is desperately needed for several reasons including a backup in case there’s another attack like 9-11.  A recent snow storm that shut down the Bluewater Bridge caused a huge traffic jam at the Ambassador Bridge and this region is dependent upon just-in-time delivery otherwise local companies lose precious time and money.

Baruah told us, “The average auto part crosses the U.S.-Canadian border no less than a dozen times before it finally gets installed in that Chevy or Chrysler product that you and I drive.”

And gridlock in Windsor from Ambassador Bridge traffic can’t get any worse.

“There are 12 stop lights in the corridor between the 401 in Canada and the Mexican border,” Baruah told us, “And those 12 stop lights are all between the end of the Ambassador Bridge and Windsor.”

And Canada has already said expanding the ambassador bridge is not an option because of the negative impact on the Windsor community.

Paul Tait is the executive director of SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, “The new bridge at the international crossing going over roughly where Zug Island is, that bridge will allow trucks to bypass downtown Windsor to get to highway 401with a much more efficient crossing.”

Truckers we talked to agree wholeheartedly.

John Nakis thinks the new bridge is a good thing because when traffic is congested it makes the traffic lighter that makes things a lot easier.”

Trucker Richard Brooks says there’s no question there’s a lot of congestion coming in and out.

Paul Tait says there have been misconceptions about the proposed bridge, “That this is going to cost Michigan extra money, or it’s somehow un-needed.

Emma Brenson lives in Delray west of Jefferson and Harrington and will have to move.  I’m not happy about it but since we’re moving forward that’s nothing I can do.  I’ve been in this house 45 years”

Sandra Taylor, on the other hand, owns two rental homes in the area and says it’s the best thing for the community, “My tenants are very happy. They’ll pay them to move and they can put money down on a house if they choose to move.  They’re really happy about it.”

And this is going to mean a lot of jobs for Michigan. With spin off jobs and construction jobs about 30,000 jobs will be created.

And in the state nearly 250-thousand jobs are based on our trade with Canada.


Contact your State Representative or State Senator to let them know how you feel about the Detroit River International Crossing.

Click here to for contact infomation for your State Representative.

Click here for contact information for your State Senator.

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Comments

  1. Steve Schwartz February 1, 2011

    All to often our local media has a tendency to dwell on the negative and sensational stories. This was an exception and I commend channel 7. This was a full 4 minute piece on a topic that is critical to the region. It is this kind of story that will keep me coming back to channel 7. The action link to your State rep is also great.

    Channel 7 viewers:Take action, follow this easy link, and let your State rep know it is time to act and act now.

    Keep up the good work channel 7.

    [Reply]

  2. JoeBlog February 1, 2011

    The misinformation here is mind-boggling.

    Traffic volume is DOWN 41% since 2000. How is it going to grow?

    Toll reveunes are insufficient and P3 proponents want Government guaranteed “availability payments.”

    There is NO commitment on Canada’s part to pay one single penny if you read the offer letter.

    How much will the cost of the part increase when tolls for a DRIC bridge are 3-4 times higher?

    Truck back-ups in Windsor ended years ago when the Ambassador Bridge Company opened up 4 new Customs booths in Detroit.

    Canada Customs said the existing bridge plaza is good for 20 years or more.

    Visit Windsor already—trucks do not go to Downtown Windsor to get to the 401. They do if they take the Tunnel!

    Everything positive about the DRIC bridge can be done NOW if Moroun builds his bridge including thousands fo jobs and $1.6B of federal matching grants. The FEDS have cut back on spending and Michigan cannot afford to spend. Only Moroun has the money to do so to make our region prosper NOW, not 20 years from now.

    [Reply]

    Jeffrey Poling Reply:

    Mr. Blog, the only misinformation on this blog originates with you.

    If traffic volume is down 41%, why is Matty Moroun so anxious to spend hundreds of millions of his own money to build another bridge next to the one he already owns?

    What is your source of information that DRIC’s tolls will be 3-4 times higher? You must either be employed as Moroun’s PR man or so completely gullible as to believe that Moroun, after spending $millions on monopoly ownership of 2 side by side bridges would not, himself, raise tolls.

    I will place my trust with Canada’s stated commitment. We have seen Matty Moroun’s commitment to the prosperity of this region with his construction of bridge ramps which force truck traffic through city streets in direct defiance of MDOT’s ramp design directive.

    And let us not forget Morouns ownership of the Michigan Depot. The money he intends to spend on his bridge monoply could, instead, be spent on renovation of the Michigan Depot which he as refused to do. Instead, he has allowed it to be a vandalized, nationally recognized symbol of Detroit’s decay. Such is not the case for St. Louis, Missouri. They totally renovated their train depot into a beautiful multi-use tourist attraction. The difference, of course, is their civic leaders have pride in their community. We have Matty Moroun.

    [Reply]

  3. Jeffrey Poling February 2, 2011

    Build the DRIC! This should be a No Brainer – but chances are, it won’t happen.

    To the best of my knowledge, all public roads, streets, bridges, expressways, etc. are constructed, owned and maintained by local, state or federal governments which is as it should be. Without the authority of government ownership and control, there is nothing to stop the absurd situation of a wealthy, private individual from buying a road – or a bridge, setting up toll booths and controlling public access, commerce and even national security.

    But, as we all know, this absurd situation already exists. How was a private individual, Matty Moroun, allowed to own and control an International Border Crossing? It could not have happened without the knowledge, participation and cooperation of government officials. And that smells of corruption.

    Apparently, the old adage – Money Talks, holds true. Matty Moroun will undoubtedly drag this through the courts, possibly for years and we may never see the DRIC.

    Greed is a powerful thing.

    [Reply]

    JoeBlog Reply:

    I hate to break the news to you but Governments passed legislation almost 80 years ago giving the Bridge Company its rights with respect to the Ambassador Bridge.

    Moroun bought the Company by buying its shares on the stock market.

    IF the Governments really wanted to have a “public” bridge, why didn’t they do the same?

    Perhaps if the true story of the Bridge would come out, then you would understand what the issues are really all about.

    [Reply]

  4. Fiona Lowther February 3, 2011

    Mr. Blog’s misinformation is mind-boggling. He keeps filling posts with all sorts of skewed “facts” that are UNfactual. “Truck backups in Windsor ended years ago” he says?!?! Mr. Blog, I wish you had been in the car with me when I was forced to sit for hours in backed-up traffic last year because of the bridge backup and was finally forced to line up with hundreds of other cars to take the tunnel. I haven’t taken the bridge since, especially when I learned that the deck was in poor condition — I didn’t want to play Moroun Roulette with my life.
    The diesel exhaust pollution in the residential neighborhoods along Huron-Church Road from stop-and-go trucks continues because trucks must pass some 17 traffic lights between 401 and the bridge; each time they stop for a red light, more polluted exhaust is released into the air.
    It’s interesting that anti-DRIC people insist that traffic volume won’t grow. If that is so, I wish someone would tell me why Mr. Moroun is fighting so hard against DRIC and for his twinned bridge if there won’t be increased traffic? Mr. Moroun has poured tons of money into political donations to fight DRIC. Why? Because not only will there be increased money from bridge tolls, but Mr. Moroun will also make billions from his duty-free complex and his fuel pumps.
    Enough! Let’s build the publicly owned Gordie Howe Bridge Downriver instead of twinning the Ambassador and subjecting Detroit and Windsor residents to double or triple the current traffic and toxic pollution.

    [Reply]

    JoeBlog Reply:

    I did not see you in refuting my comments

    Oh my, you were caught in traffic once at the Bridge and that justifies your comments. Interestingly, you said that there were hundreds of cars at the Tunnel backed up as well. Do you think that there might be some explanation about why both border crossings were jammed up e.g. a security issue or lack of Customs booth staffing’s which is generally the reason for backups.

    Gee, if the Bridge Company was allowed to build a new bridge then they could have fixed up this deck that causes you so much concern. The repairs could have been done very quickly if there was no traffic and the cost of doing so would be much lower. But that does not serve the Governments’ purpose.

    You do need to investigate further about the changes being made to diesel fuel and diesel engines. Moreover, you need to investigate what the Bridge Company proposed years ago to eliminate all those stoplights but which of course the Governments have not undertaken.

    If I was a business person and I had spent half a billion dollars based on the Governments agreeing that I should move forward with a second span, then I would fight the Governments who then turned around and tried to build another bridge right beside me.

    If I was a business person and saw that my volume had decreased almost 50% from that of a decade ago, I would certainly fight against a Bridge that is supposed to take away about 70% of my existing business and which may well put me into bankruptcy.

    Mr. Moroun is cheap compared with the Governments. Canada is offering $550 million but only if a Bill that it wants for its purposes is passed. Oh, and with respect to that $550 million, there is no commitment in the offer letter to Michigan for Canada to be obliged to pay one single solitary penny. Perhaps you should ask the investigative reporters at Channel 7 to look into that.

    [Reply]

  5. jay February 3, 2011

    If toll reveunes are down then why is Matty fighting tooth and nail to keep it?

    [Reply]

    JoeBlog Reply:

    See above

    [Reply]

  6. Robert Boivin February 3, 2011

    We are going to borrow money from Canada to build a bridge? That makes total sense when we have someone who is going to fund the bridge with their own money costing the tax payers nothing. Michigan is losing jobs our public school system is in shambles and roads are literally falling apart. Politics are one thing – but a bad business decision is another. Not to mention the maintenance that it will cost the tax payers over the years. Snyder instead of making a big splash with a Bridge that my kids will end up paying for. If you are that smart try fixing Michigan’s failing economy – get real jobs here that will contribute to our economy and actually help Michigan grow and might even make people want to come back to this failing state – and that’s what it has become. The automotive industry is a shadow of what it was! And I am sure Canada would like the DRIC it would be another bridge for them to bring thee garbage to our landfills. This man has the property and his own money and is a tax payer and job provider to thousands of people. And is vital to the US economy with the services that he provides and the money he contributes to our economy. Growing up my parents always told if it looks too good to be true it usually is.

    A concerned taxpayer
    Robert.J.Boivin
    Harrison Township, MI

    [Reply]

  7. coral gehres February 4, 2011

    I DROVE TO WORK EVERY DAY ON I75 FOR 18 YEASR UNTIL I BECAME SICK AND I HAD TO BE TO WORK AT DIFERENT HOURS OF THE MORNING SOMETIMES SHORT EVES. THE WAS MOST DAYS TWO LANES OF 18 WHEELERS WAITING FOR THE BRIDGE AND HORRID MOST DAYS . I CANNOT SEE PUTTING A SECOND BRIDGE IN CLOSE VICINITY WHEN IT WILL NOT HELP TRAFFIC. I PRAY THAT THE LOCATION WILL BE CHANGED AND SO DOES CANADA. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

    SINCERELY,
    MRS,GEHRES

    [Reply]

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