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OUR VIEW: The bridge and the billionaire

By Daily News on Saturday, September 01, 2012

There’s a $2 billion dollar bridge in the balance as the battle continues between Gov. Rick Snyder and Matty Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, the current span linking Detroit and Windsor, Ont.

The International Trade Crossing, a proposed new bridge between Michigan and Canada, has created a windfall for quite a few folks even though construction of the span is not yet certain. Moroun has spent upward of $15 million on television ads trying to convince Michigan citizens that a new bridge is a bad idea. Nearly three quarters of a million dollars have landed in the pockets of Michigan legislators to help them understand that a new bridge is not needed.

Still another tactic in this all-out assault against the new bridge is a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban international bridges or tunnels (and could conceivably ban all bridges or tunnels) from being built without a vote of the people. This effort, as well, is financed by the Moroun interests.

We understand that this is big business and the Morouns should not be expected to welcome a new competitor. But apparently Canadians need a better route through Windsor and they prefer to do business with Michigan.

The new International Trade Crossing would be paid for by the Canadian government. The bridge would ostensibly cost Michigan nothing, with bridge tolls eventually covering the bill. The project would also qualify Michigan for $2 billion in badly needed matching federal highway dollars to rebuild Michigan’s roads.

We would not be “buying a bridge” … we’d be creating thousands of construction jobs over many years and establishing southeast Michigan as a major freight transportation hub connecting this state, its industries and products and the rest of the Midwest with America’s largest trading partner.

Opportunity knocks. We need the imagination and courage to move ahead toward a rebirth of Michigan’s industrial and trade potential with transportation logistics that benefit both nations.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

  1. Matty Moroun is only interested in lining his own pockets. As the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, he insists on telling the public that a second bridge is not needed downriver because traffic is down on his bridge. Yet, he began building himself another bridge adjacent to the Ambassador until the courts put an end to his plans due to violations of contracts with MDOT. He also owns many run down buildings and properties throughout Detroit that are eyesores and should be razed. The bridge that Gov. Snyder and the Canadian Gov’t. are proposing is a good thing for both countries.

  2. If the Grand Rapids TV stations are showing a commercial in which Canada’s Transport Minister is shown making a speech before the Parliament and says “We are going to spend zero tax payer dollars” with the voice over suggesting that Michigan tax payers will therefore pay for the bridge, here are the facts:

    The commercial is edited and does not reveal the entire statement by Minister Strahl. Maroun’s commercial conveniently leaves out the next statement when Strahl says “It is a P3 project” which, to the Canadian people, means that it will be funded by private companies who will borrow the money, build the bridge, and pay the loans back through toll revenues. In other words, it will be a privately financed bridge. Minister Strahl was assuring the Canadian people that they would not be taxed and the speech had nothing to do with Michigan taxpayers at all. Maroun has spent over $9 million in the last 2 years on commercials full of distortion. I hope the people of Greenville and West Michigan do not get misled by Maroun’s tactics and will instead fully support Gov. Snyder and this much needed bridge project.

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