Feds approve public-private competitor for Ambassador Bridge

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The U.S. government has given the go-ahead for a new public-private toll bridge that will link Detroit with the Canadian city of Windsor. Once built, the bridge will compete for border traffic with the Ambassador Bridge despite attempts by Ambassador owner Matty Moroun to quash the deal.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced the approval from the U.S. Department of State on Friday, April 12. Construction on the estimated $950 million bridge could start in 2015 and be completed in 2020.

The Canadian government has already granted approval and has committed $550 million toward construction including access to U.S. Interstate 75 and Highway 401 on the Canadian side. Part of that investment helps Michigan obtain U.S. federal matching funds.

Tolls collected on the Canadian side of the bridge will pay back those investments. Tolls will not be collected on the U.S. side, according to the agreement.

The agreement allows Michigan and the Canadian government to enter into a partnership called the New International Trade Crossing for the purpose of letting bids for the design, finance and operation of the bridge.

Michigan and Canada engage in $70 billion in trade annually according to Snyder’s office.

Moroun, who opposes the public-private bridge, has proposed to build his own bridge that would double the capacity of the Ambassador. The U.S. Coast Guard denied permit requests from Moroun in 2010.

And last September, a Michigan judge ordered the state DOT to finish a ramp and access project that Moroun failed to complete despite a court order and an overnight stay in jail.

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