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Posted on Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Does a new Detroit-to-Windsor bridge matter to Ann Arbor? Canada says yes

By Nathan Bomey

Lansing lawmakers are debating the prospect of a second bridge spanning the Detroit River and connecting the Motor City with Windsor, Canada.

But does it matter to Ann Arbor?

Roy Norton, consul general of Canada at Detroit, who is responsible for leading Canada’s relationship with Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, said the answer is yes.

“The Michigan-Canada economic relationship is the most important one we’ve got. Michigan literally buys more from Canada than we sell to any country in the world except for the United States,” Norton said. “So your prosperity, your ability to continue to consume our goods and services is vitally important to us, and the flip side of the coin is equally true. Michigan exports more to Canada than it does to any jurisdiction in the world.


Lansing lawmakers are debating the prospect of a second bridge spanning the Detroit River and connecting the Motor City with Windsor.

Photo courtesy of VideoVik via Flickr

“Part of what makes us important to one another is the fact that businesses … have as part of their business plan moving things back and forth across the frontier as seamlessly as possible.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder supports setting up a public-private partnership that would construct and manage a new bridge, but the Detroit company that operates the existing Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River wants to build its own bridge and is trying to block the public-private span.

In 2010, legislative Republicans blocked the public-private bridge, saying they were concerned that taxpayers could be stuck with a bill if the bridge proves to be a financial debacle.

But Snyder endorsed the proposed New International Trade Crossing bridge in his State of the State address in January after convincing the federal government to accept Canada’s offer of up to $550 million — which would be used to construct Michigan’s half of the new bridge — as matching funds the state must deliver to receive federal roadwork dollars.

That deal led Republicans to reconsider the project — and the Canadian government is hopeful that the new bridge will be approved this year. Tolls from the new public-private bridge — which is supported by most major businesses in the state, including all the major auto companies — would be used to repay the Canadian government.


Canada consul general Roy Norton

But Manuel "Matty" Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co., which wants the right to build its own bridge at a different point over the Detroit River, is moving aggressively to try to block the public-private bridge.

One issue facing Moroun, however, is that the Canadian government has said it will not allow Moroun to build the bridge where he wants to build it. The Canadians say they will only build the bridge where the public-private partnership would build it.

Meanwhile, Snyder and the Canadians say the bridge project would create 10,000 construction jobs in both countries — and that a new bridge needs to move forward now.

Norton, who recently met with the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce to drum up support for the project, recently spoke with’s Nathan Bomey. Excerpts: Why is a new Detroit-to-Windsor bridge important to the Ann Arbor region?

Roy Norton: The Ambassador Bridge, which has done yeomen service, is nonetheless 82 years of age. It wasn’t built to last forever. That bridge alone carries almost 30 percent of the world’s largest two-way trade relationship. And literally millions of jobs in the United States and millions of jobs in Canada depend on everything working just right every day at the Ambassador Bridge.

Ten thousand trucks a day cross the Ambassador Bridge — and projections, including projections made by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, although their television commercials tend not to highlight this fact — are that truck traffic will grow at least three-fold over the next 30 years.

Firms that rely on this service — the ability to move goods back and forth — need to know that they can do so predictably or they will locate where they can have that confidence.

So it matters to the state, it matters to the region, it matters to the whole country. As to why it matters to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, John Dingell’s district in 2009 did $6 billion in exports to Canada. In the 11th district next door, exports were $7.8 billion. The Republicans in the state Legislature have said they’re concerned about the financial viability of the new bridge. Are you convinced that it would be financially sustainable?

Norton: In reality, it’s a non-issue, because Canada has said that we’ll guarantee the bridge.

Canada’s a pretty well-managed country, as it happens. Until the Great Recession of 2008, we had 11 national surpluses consecutively. We’ll be back in surplus in a couple of years. We’re not in the habit of making dumb financial decisions. Maybe this will be one — but we don’t think so.

The only piece that could have been Michigan’s responsibility is the I-75 connection from the foot of the new bridge to existing I-75. That would have cost — it’s estimated by Canada and Michigan — somewhere in the order of $500 million. Maybe as high as $550 million. The legislation will make clear that Michigan isn’t going to be responsible for that either.

So, for no money down and no liability, Michigan gets joint ownership and joint control of a state-of-the-art, six-lane bridge built to last 125 years that will massively increase the investment attractiveness of the region and will substantially increase the capacity to move stuff back and forth.

We think it’s an exceptionally good deal. We’re not in the habit of cutting this kind of deal, but it’s so important to us. It is Canada’s No. 1 infrastructure priority. How frustrated have you been at the Moroun family’s ability to block this so far?

Norton: I just started in September, so I haven’t had the chance to get frustrated yet. Give me time. Nothing that’s happened so far has been a surprise. The status quo works for them. They like things the way they are. Nobody with half a brain has any trouble figuring out why they like things the way they are.

We’re pretty confident — hopefully not naively so — that legislators at the end of the day will be hard pressed to oppose this, that it’s just so compelling, it’s such a good deal, it does so much for the state. And to be clear, if this bridge goes up, the Ambassador Bridge will continue to operate and trucks can continue to go over that bridge.

Norton: Oh, absolutely. Because we’re talking about projected growth of two-, three-fold, they’ll get their share of that, too.

Will they carry as much traffic as they do today? Not the day after the bridge is built and maybe not for a little while. It will probably take a little while for them to ramp up as they gain their share of the increased volumes before they get back to.

But it’s a bridge that’s paid for, it’s enormously profitable. Because it’s profitable, it will remain in business and, frankly, it’s critical to the whole objective of achieving redundancy that they do remain in business.

We need both bridges — and we see no reason why both bridges wouldn’t be both operational and profitable. For the construction of the actual bridge, if it gets approved, how will the construction jobs be handled?

Norton: They’ll be Michigan workers on the Michigan side of the bridge, as in literally the half of the span that is in the United States, plus all of the road work on the U.S. side, and they would be Canadian workers on the other side.

And we’re talking about 10,000 jobs during the construction period. How long would the project take?

Norton: Four to five years. How important has the governor’s support been so far to get you across the finish line?

Norton: Well, it’s not about us. We care deeply, passionately. It’s equally about you. The governor is acting in the best interests of the people of Michigan, not the best interests of the people of Canada.

If the governor were opposing this, I don’t think there would be a chance of it going anywhere.

But there is no other economic development project of even remotely near this magnitude on offer in Michigan. It’s a freebie, in reality.

Given that there are Republican majorities in both chambers, it will require, presumably, a majority of Republicans in both chambers to be supportive if it’s to stand a chance of passing. We think it will and we believe the governor that it will this year. If it were to pass this year, then it can be opened in 2015, 2016. Close to the (2014 gubernatorial) election.

Norton: Well it would certainly be well underway in terms of construction with the economic impact of that having already taken root. If this continues to get delayed, how long until you think companies tart to choose a different route?

Norton: Well, we have other options. We can go to the United States Congress, which can exercise the same kind of authority as Michigan could. It’s not our preferred route. It’s not the preferred route of the U.S. administration for that matter.

But if Michigan were to do as it did last year — essentially let it hang and not make a decision — I think it’s entirely possible that the U.S. federal administration and Congress would say this project is too important to our bilateral relationship, so it’s time for us to upload it to Washington.

I think that’s what would happen next and we hope never to speculate about the need for companies to go if they can’t have reliable transportation in this area.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sat, May 28, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

The privately run bridge has been doing just fine for decades. Put a new bridge in the hands of the government and unions and the tax payers will get raped, politics will make it costly, and it will always be in the red. No thanks to a government run bridge. By the way, if it was so great to have it government owned why isn't the Canadian government eager to take control?


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 6:07 p.m.

So you want Canada to take control of the michigan side of the new bridge? Aren't you worried that it would lead to Canadian control of all of the USA?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

"Put a new bridge in the hands of the government and unions and the tax payers will get raped, politics will make it costly, and it will always be in the red." You mean, like the Mackinaw Bridge? Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Really? "privately run bridge has been doing just fine for decades" I am guessing you rarely use the bridge if that is your opinion. EVERY business in the state who has business that relies on the bridge would tell you that your are clueless.

Cendra Lynn

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 6 a.m.

The history is much longer than this article indicates. The Ambassador Bridge is a Mouron family business. Logic and responsiveness to public need have never been their long suits. Making money has been. One big problem is that they can always determine how the bridge is to be used. The can close it completely if they wish. They can let pedestrians walk on it or not at their whim. Governments only control WHO goes over the bridge and what they can take with them, not whether they go over the bridge. Add to that the congestion that has gone from bad to worse to impossible in the past decade or so. On a holiday weekend it is not unusual to have a two-hour wait to get across, with concomitant traffic backups. This is not the fault of customs on either side -- it is because there is not sufficient room, especially on the American side, to add a sufficient number of lanes through customs. Detroit/Windsor is the most active commercial crossing between our countries. A look at maps and interstates will show why. If the Mourons decide to slow things down, we have no recourse whatsoever. Neither government can force them to speed things up. There have been many problems with them over the years and only when it became clear that they would be intractable for the foreseeable future did we begin considering the new bridge. One nice thing: the new bridge has been sited in such a way as to avoid some major migrating bird stopovers and sanctuaries. Much environmental thought has gone into it.

Basic Bob

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

A new bridge will pay for itself. The only question should be who puts up the money up front, because they will also get to reap the benefit. Regardless of which bridge is built, the users will pay for it. If the state pays (like the Blue Water bridge), they get to collect the tolls. If Canada pays, they get to collect the tolls. If DIBC pays, they collect the tolls. Both Michigan and Ontario would benefit from a downriver bridge because if would directly connect to the freeways on both sides without going through city streets. But that would also cut into Matty Maroun's business on the Ambassador Bridge. Maroun doesn't care what the folks in Windsor say, because he already bought up the property under his proposed second span. And he doesn't care what MDOT says, or the new I-75 gateway that we built for him would be open instead of tied up in court.

Jim Walker

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

The National Motorists Association (NMA) opposed a Michigan bill last year that would have authorized unlimited public private partnerships including the DRIC Bridge, but that bill allowed zero legislative approval or oversight duties. Current Michigan law and practice requires a specific piece of legislation from the Legislature to individually authorize EACH transportation facility that would charge a toll, and we believe that should remain our law. The NMA would have no objections to a new DRIC Bridge under the following conditions: 1) The Legislature would pass a bill authorizing ONLY the DRIC Public Private Partnership as a single project with no other projects included in the bill. 2) Michigan would owe zero dollars to build the bridge. This might require fixed price construction contracts for our side of the I-75 approach limited by the Canadian contribution of $550 million dollars, with no cost overruns to be paid to the contractors for any reason. 3) Michigan would have an ongoing liability of zero dollars. If usage is not sufficient to pay back the entire costs and ongoing operational expenses, if not one single vehicle ever showed up to use the bridge and pay a toll, Michigan, its taxpayers, its other transportation funds, its general fund, etc. would owe absolutely nothing and the entire losses would be paid by private investors and/or Canada. In short, if the bill is crafted with ZERO financial risk to Michigan in any way, we would have no objections. Please also note that Matty Moroun has offered to build a second span to the Ambassador Bridge right next to the existing one with ZERO cost to Michigan, but Canada refuses to allow him to do that. We COULD have a second bridge for free with zero financial risk to Michigan and its taxpayers, but Canada won't allow it. This is why we believe any new DRIC Bridge MUST be done with zero financial risk. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, <a href="," rel='nofollow'>,</a> Ann Arbor, MI


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

Manny has done NOTHING in the years ha has owned the bridge. The idea of building another bridge where the current one is, is downright stupid. From a security stand point alone it makes zero sense. Your organizations opinion matters little to me now that you have shown what you are really all about. You think there was some constitutional provision about you and your car that is just not there. Its an embarrassing organization.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

All the negative ads regarding the bridge and potential cost to taxpayers as a money losing proposition are coming from the owner of the current bridge who wants to put in his own bridge. What does that tell you.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

The more the Matty Moroun/Dick Morris ad plays, the more I want a public bridge. Wow, is that ever irritating!


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

We are not that broke, the state just gave away $2B to create jobs and we all know that this money will be used by corporations to build their stock prices, pay their CEO's obscene amounts, and increase their investments in China. Why is it not a slam dunk for Rick and his create jobs at any cost cronies to push this through? Oh, that's right, they would be stepping on the toes of one of their own and you can bet we will get the best government that Mouron can buy!


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

In case you didn't read the entire article, Rick has been pushing harder than anyone to get this through.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

Heres the sad reality. Democrats love the idea. However, since the legislation will come from Snyder, they will vote it down because they have huge ego's that will get in the way. If it was purposed by Granholm, everyone of them would vote for it.. Lets see if they let politics get in the way. Only time will tell.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

You are so wrong. The republicans have the votes to do this without a SINGLE democratic vote. Granholm DID propose this and the right wing nut jobs stalled it., This should have been done last year, but republicans blocked it. Don't let facts get in the way of your argument though. Republicans believe if they tell a lie often enough people will eventually believe it.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Please, the only resistance that warrants any worry are extreme right-wingers trying to &quot;take a stand&quot; and keep the big bad gov't out of our public infrastructure. Those people will do anything to get re-elected by the frothing-at-the-mouth tea partiers, looking for anything to get angry about.

Tom Joad

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

Alaska has the Bridge to Nowhere--maybe we can call this the boondoggle bridge. Canada is well-managed because they have a population of only 30,000,000 in the second largest land area with a colossal amount of natural resources. Let Canada pay for it. We're broke.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

They are paying for it... what's your point?


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

They are paying for michigan's share of the cost and being paid back through the tolls collected in the future. After that, it's Michigan money.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

The anti-bridge TV commercials seem to be little other than propaganda based on innuendo and disinformation. I'm surprised that they are allowed to continue.

John A2

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

It sounds good to have a new bridge. This will also give employment as well and I'm all for it. Thumbs up! This Moroun guy is like a troll, and we don't need more trolls.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

What does it say about legislators who vote against this win-win project? Let's see how cash and corruption works at the state level.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

&quot;...Michigan literally buys more from Canada than we sell to any country in the world except for the United States," Pretty scary to think a country is relying on our state to keep them afloat.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

Do you really think that the State could have run a profitable bridge for as long as Moroun has? Really? Are there other examples of State run entities that are profitable? . A private entity _can_ run a profitable Bridge business. The State of Michigan _can not_ run a profitable bridge business. There is no discipline within the State to meet deadlines and budgets. And that would be the difference. btw, Who is John Galt?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

So much anger. So many opinions. So few facts. The Pigford lawsuit dates to 1983. Who, today, ought be fired? Its settlement granted black farmers less money than they who have received had they been paid in accordance with proper practice over a 15-year period. In other words, it saved the government money. Our public roads are built by private construction companies under contract to the state. They build the roads as cheaply as possible so as to wring the most profit they can out of the contract. If you are unhappy with the condition of the roads, I suggest you look into the construction practices of the private companies that receive public money. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were/are congressionally chartered private corporations (just as the transcontinental railroads were congressionally chartered privately owned corporations). You could buy stock in them. Yes, they were badly run. They WERE/ARE NOT the government. Yes, the DPS is a mess, as is Willow Run, River Rouge, Flint, and other inner city schools. Gee, I wonder what they might have in common? And there are VERY successful public schools in this state. The fact of the matter is that charter schools do no better than public when one accounts for socio-economic status of the students. The USPS operates at a loss largely due to restrictions placed on it by Congress (e.g., Saturday delivery). AMTRAK's subsidy is peanuts compared to the subsidies given to trucking companies (via their wildly under priced license fees) and airlines (via the costs assumed by the public in the maintenance and operation of airports and the air traffic control system). And on track it owns and maintains (e.g., the Northeast corridor) AMTRAK has an excellent on-time record. It is on those stretches of track (e.g., between Detroit and Kalamazoo) that AMTRAK does not own and maintain, and on which its trains do not have priority, that its on-time record is poor. Any other &quot;facts&quot;? GN&amp;GL


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

The fact is MDOT is lying about bridge use (their own emails) and therefore lying about potential toll collection = the DRIC project will fail. Taxpayers will pay for that failure. The point is clear: governments fail all the time at efficient use of funds and time. Taxpayers pay for that failure - not government. Governments true use of money is for politicking and repaying political donors, not building financially sustainable projects. Private business respects time and funds. It is &quot;all they have to survive&quot;. Governments do not respect time and funds because no one is at risk - they survive off of your taxes. Just look at Pentagon overruns, billions lost no one is fired - Look at Medicare fraud - year after year after year - a few arrests. Look at the recent Pigford lawsuit - cost taxpayers over a Billion - not one person in Government is fired - not one!. Freddie Fanny/Congressional housing bubble - Fired? no - million dollar bonuses all around. Investigate roads here in MI - an economic tragedy - poor materials used causing outrageous 'maintenance' budgets and shorter life spans, lost functionality -- just &quot;needs more money&quot;. Look at Detroit Public Schools this past decade - the State is not even allowed to audit them! Why - - who cares? They don't care and they don't have too. You cannot find a more poorly run entity than a government project. Losses simply carry no weight. (see Amtrak or the USPS) Government Assets are considered problems, not as sustainable entities. Delays are just not important. Failure is acceptable.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

Wow. Two publicly funded infrastructure projects that went over budget and/or were poorly designed--two out of the hundreds of thousands in this country. And let'sd throw in the bridge in Minneapolis for a third. Gee. Private business never made a mistake, did it? Using your logic, the BP oil well blowout means that no private company ought ever be able to drill offshore anywhere ever again. Good Night and Good Luck.


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

Take a look at this 2min news story from last October (from Windsor) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Regarding DRIC: MDOT &quot;tolls will never cover costs&quot; MDOT &quot;pump up the modeling numbers&quot; And as for Government cost estimates to build something . . . Take the Zilwaukee Bridge, for example, over the Saginaw River. An MDOT project whose $79 million budget ballooned to $127 million. Work began in 1979 and was expected to last three years, -but the span wasn't completely open for traffic until 1988 - nine years after breaking ground! I won't even mention the Big Dig in Boston. The government track record for building anything and operating anything speaks for itself.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 4:21 a.m.

@mojo: Nice selective excerpting from a six page document. Whether willfully or not, you succeeded in misrepresenting the document's thrust. For those who might be interested, the document is at: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

Also - Michigan taxpayers are on the hook for certain insurance losses at the Mighty Mack - becuase ... Public Act 71 of 2009 Was signed into law to allow the Mackinac Bridge Authority to self-insure the bridge, and to maintain a reserve fund of at least $1 million. &quot;Larger losses would be paid out of state transportation tax revenue.&quot; Hopefully there are no major losses on one of the longest bridges in America.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

Wrong again sleepy. Some past funny business from past State Leadership: &quot;On May 6, 2003, a package of five bills regarding the Mackinac Bridge Authority was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives: 1 HB 4627 would amend Section 7 of 1952 PA 214 (the Mackinac Bridge Authority's authorizing statute) to forgive certain "advances" made by the state of Michigan to the Mackinac Bridge Authority. As of September 30, 2002, there remained a balance of $12,306,172 advanced from the State Trunkline Fund, and $ 53,250,000 advanced from the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF).&quot; - - Tax payers would have eaten that &quot;forgiveness&quot; ! This bill was vetoed - thankfully. 2 HB 4631 (2003) would amend Section 11 of 1951 PA 51 to provide for the annual appropriation of not less than $5.25 million from the State Trunkline Fund (STF) to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, to be used to reduce the toll charged. - Now why would you do that - perhaps your cash flow is not covering your costs. 3 HB 4628 would amend Section 163 of 2000 PA 403, the Motor Fuel Tax Act, to strike language which would have caused the "bridge to become toll-free" after repayment of funds advanced to the Mackinac Bridge Authority from the MTF. - - The the Mighty Mack was supposed to be a 'toll-free' bridge; but new politicians of today – don't have to keep those old promises.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

How about the Mackinaw Bridge, for starters? Or the entire Port Authority system in New York and New Jersey? Or the Blue Water Bridge? Or the various turnpikes and toll roads that criss-cross the Northeast? Or . . . or . . . or . . . Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

I love the commercials.... as if a bridge won't pay for itself. If they were so unprofitable, why would Mouron be so afraid of the competition?


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

@snoop: i disagree with you on this one. i am fine with public infrastructure being paid for by public money. that would guarantee proper oversight and transparency. i would say something further as well: make the bridge public. have it provide revenue for the people's public uses instead of enriching lobby firms, political hacks and lining the pockets of a few.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

I just wish we didn't have to drive thru Detroit to get Canada :( If &quot;someone&quot; is going to profit from a new bridge ... it should be more than one person .... it should be the taxpayers and the State of Michigan :)


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

You don't, you can drive to Port Huron. :)

Jamie Riddle

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

Not only does this guy own this bridge, he also owns a trucking company. He does a horrible job running his trucking company, just like he does running this bridge and maintaining it. This man has a lot of money and the only people that might be able to stand up against him is the government. I say we build the new bridge, tear his down and build a better one where his stands.


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

I'm well-aware of what many of his trucks look like: I drove a truck for nearly 20 years and have been across that rickety bridge MANY times. I've also run a regular route out of one of the consolidation warehouses he operates. He has newer trucks for some of his companies-the ones you see around Detroit, like Mohawk, etc are mostly the ones used to shuttle auto parts back and forth to Essex and Toronto. He also controls Triple-Crown, PAM and several large companies. And you're right . . .I've personally seen some very fishy things go on with trucking companies he controls. Somebody at the Motor Carrier level isnt doing their job. But, that just tells you what kind of shape you can expect that bridge to be in . .he spends the bare minimum and wont allow the Feds to inspect it. He also 'issues permits' for hazmat to cross that bridge, contrary to Federal law. One accident and there could be a fiasco on that bridge. With the Kilpatrick dynasty out of the way, and Bing cleaning up Detroit corruption, maybe he'll have to start following all the same rules as everyone else. He's got the auto companies by the short and prickly with his total control over that border-and his trucks run daily (many trucks a day) to Laredo-so he knows what kind of operation it COULD be, wants to keep it all in the family; the people of Michigan be damned. I also know people who have driven for him -only the sleazy stay very long. He charges his trucks less tolls so they can undercut every other company-has run most of the other carriers out of hauling auto freight. Forbes did an article on him in 2004-search 'The Troll Under The Bridge' -and that's only the beginning. Because his company is private, Fortune cant quite place him on their 'richest' list but they figure he makes, conservatively, over billion a year profit. And he has the nerve to try to tell us the taxpayers will have to eat a loss on that bridge? HA! He stays lawyered up to fight all threats to his monopoly.

Jamie Riddle

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 4:30 a.m.

@llspier- have you seen the trucks and trailers he owns? The trucks are ancient, the trailers are in bad shape (holes in the floor), but yet they still load them up to 80,000 lbs. He started off as Central Transport, and now he has like 5 different names for the same company. Why is that? Tax reasons? He has paid off the state, so the DOT officers don't mess with his drivers, I think this guy is as crooked as they come, and someone needs to stop him dead in his tracks. I didn't post this stuff earlier because would have probably removed it because it violates their guidelines. I just know this stuff is fact, I have never worked for him but I know a handful of people that have, and they have all told me the same thing without knowing my prior knowledge.


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Maroun owns more than 'a trucking company'-he has controlling ownership in 4500 trucks-and it appears those trucks get about a $10 discount on the tolls-they pay about $16 (what Michigan's other two bridges cost) while other trucks pay up to $26. Using this monetary advantage, he now controls a large portion of the automotive parts traffic-and also runs big auto supply line consolidating warehouses in the Detroit area. He's got a sweet deal going here with this monopoly-and it's no wonder the auto companies all want another span! They want to have a choice of how they ship parts and products. The bridge is in terrible shape, he wields his private ownership like a club against companies, the State, and the federal govts of both the United States and Canada. He is, in effect, holding Detroit's future prosperity hostage as there is NO room near the existing bridge for the kind of cross-border warehousing, terminals and freight-forwarding businesses that have grown up at other large border crossings. The bridge is the north terminus of the NAFTA corridor out of Texas-a great many trucks are just passing through-and they all need services, border clearance service and storage facilities. Currently, they also get dumped into downtown Windsor-blocking Huron Rd for blocks! It's a national security issue for both countries. I'm all for a publicly-owned span to the south of the current bridge, where all that truck traffic could circumvent the Detroit city area completely via I-275 and north on I-75 and head into Canada through a sparsely-populated area and where there was room for growth. Both countries would benefit. Maroun could still run his bridge . . .but 90% of the truckers would avoid it like the plague if they had a choice. And he knows it! Take a good look at Laredo, TX and how they have positioned their newest bridge to avoid the downtown congestion and allow room for warehousing. Their growth has been phenomenal. Maroun knows this too-his trucks go there daily!

Will Warner

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

I understand that building and operating a bridge over an international river may be a unique situation, but I'm for privatizing whatever we can. I am happy, for example, that it is not the government delivering electricity, gas, and telecom. Because there is no need for the government to be profitable, there is no strong incentive for it to control costs or improve service. Businesses (that are not monopolies) feel constant pressure to do these things. I understand and respect the profit motive. Businesses have to make me happy, but government can take me for granted.

Will Warner

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

Johnnya2, in the long run you're better off adapting to people the way they are, and that is, motivated by self-interest. Much of the last century was devoted to trying to suppress this feature of people, forcing them to do as we would wish, rather than as they wish. The results were not pretty, way not prettier than the problems you cite. And with that, I have to go give direction to my lawn boy. He's a real go-getter. He underbid the other boys in the neighborhood and has a real business going. He reminds me of myself at his age.


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

Will you are so off base. I do not like the utilities BECAUSE there is a profit motive. I feel the utilities should be owned by the public (government). Any profits should be funneled back into infrastruture. The profit motive is everything that has failed this country. As Ghost pointed out the BP oil spill is a function of profit motive. The entire collapse of the banking industry is another example. Lenders who haad no actual skin in the game went ahead and did whatever they possibly could to secure new loans, whether a person was qualified or not. The fact is Moron and his family have owned the bridge for many many years. Where was his plan to improve service before the idea of the new bridge came to be? What benefit was there for him to provide better service? You still have not addressed the fact that PRIVATE companies should not be running a border crossing. It doesn't happen at our Mexican border.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

I presume that subsequent legislation allowed the MBA to continue to collect tolls in return for which the MBA was wholly responsible for the bridge's maintenance (which it is). The MB is currently undergoing a multi-year upkeep project costing tens of millions of dollars, money drawn wholly from the tolls collected. I'm certain that the state gov't is anxious to end bridge's toll status and to take on the fiscal responsibility for bridge upkeep. One last point and then I surrender the field: it is the profit motive that has led to, among other things, the BP disaster in the Gulf--a desire to do things as quickly and as cheaply as possible, hence the ability to wring the most profit from any project. The profit motive all too often leads businesses in disastrous directions with huge public consequences. In the Marouns' case, they've not kept up the entrances and exits to their bridge in such a manner that keeps pace with the increased traffic. And they have no need--whether or not you spend 5 minutes in line leaving the bridge or 2 hours, they'll get your money. That's great for the Marouns' bottom line, but it shows their absolute indifference to the public good. To trust blindly the profit motive in the regulation of our lives is just as dumb, if not dumber, than trusting blindly the government to regulate our lives. And now to mow the lawn. Good Night and Good Luck

Will Warner

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

"The Ambassador Bridge is an anomaly that runs for the benefit of a single family, not the state, not the nation, and not their citizens." When you say the above, Ghost, I know you don't mean that only a single family is permitted to use the bridge. No, for decades the Ambassador Bridge has provided the same benefit to the state and its citizens as every other bridge: people drive over it to get to where they want to go. State-funded infrastructure is not intended furnish the state with net income, so if the Ambassador Bridge doesn't make the state money, neither does the Mackinaw. And if the Mackinaw doesn't cost the state money, neither does the Ambassador. (Though I have to ask: the original authorization of the Mac said that it "shall become a free bridge" once the public indebtedness incurred for it was retired. Is that still the plan? And if so, where will the funds for maintenance come from?) In truth, I overstated my distrust of government. We can turn to it for things that private industry is unwilling or unable to take on. (I'm surprised to learn how often public works programs turn out so well; I would have guessed there would be more examples of the Union Pacific in our history.) But I'm not bothered by the thought of entrepreneurs making a profit off of me—in fact I am grateful when ther vision an tolerance for risk inexpensively afford me the things I want in life. And I would think that believing that legislators can be, as you say, "bought and paid for" would lead you to some distrust of government as well.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 1 a.m.

[As he rolls his eyeballs in amazement] For someone so distrustful of government you seem to be lacking in knowledge about how these very important governmental entities work. The Mackinaw Bridge is famous for having paid off its bonds many years early and for sustaining itself solely on the tolls it collects. It and the other structures I mentioned (except the Soo Locks) are public authorities whose budgets are on line. Since you are so distrustful of their management I suggest you check them out for their revenue sources and then double check the State of Michigan's expenditures, also on line, to see if what monies are being spent on them. The fact of the matter is that, from this nation's origins, beginning with the National Road, the Coastal Road, the Natchez Trace, and the Erie Canal (among MANY others), the practice in this country has been for the public funding and management of transportation infrastructure. The Ambassador Bridge is an anomaly that runs for the benefit of a single family, not the state, not the nation, and not their citizens. Good Night and Good Luck

Will Warner

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:50 p.m.

"Seems to me the government monopoly at the Mackinaw Bridge has worked out pretty well, as it has at Detroit Metro, as it has at the Blue Water Bridge, as it has at the Soo Locks and at the international crossing there." Do we know that these enterprises are self-supporting and do not cover losses with tax revenue? Do we know that these operations would not be better if privately owned? "It is precisely because government does not need to profit that its costs are kept low in such circumstances." I will wager that the government's inability to improvise and adapt more than eliminates any advantage it gains from not having to turn a profit. Moreover, its PRICES may sometimes be low, but I'll bet its COSTS aren't. "The thought that the single busiest crossing point between Canada and the United States is privately owed and operated ought be anathema." Not to me. I distrust government and trust the profit motive: As long as we don't begrudge them a profit, we can get people to do whatever we want them to do. I can get people to bring me Sauvingon Blanc all the way from Australia and Bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean provided I can make it profitable for them to do it. No matter how much I am willing to pay, however, I can not have these commodities together in a restaurant on Christmas Eve because I have no (practical) way of making the government stop interfering with the free exchange of money for wine on that day. "If Maroun and his bought-and-paid-for legislators block a new bridge, the state ought exercise eminent domain and seize the Ambassador Bridge, lock, stock, and barrel." If Maroun is paying legislators to prevent the emergence of private competition for his bridge, I would have a problem with that. Anyway, if you want to see lobbying by business curtailed, curtail the ability of the government to affect business one way or the other.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Seems to me the government monopoly at the Mackinaw Bridge has worked out pretty well, as it has at Detroit Metro, as it has at the Blue Water Bridge, as it has at the Soo Locks and at the international crossing there. It is precisely because government does not need to profit that its costs are kept low in such circumstances. And if Manny Maroun weren't concerned about the competition of a low-cost &quot;government bridge,&quot; he would not be so opposed to the process. The thought that the single busiest crossing point between Canada and the United States is privately owed and operated ought be anathema. If Maroun and his bought-and-paid-for legislators block a new bridge, the state ought exercise eminent domain and seize the Ambassador Bridge, lock, stock, and barrel. Good Night and Good Luck

Will Warner

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

johnnya2 -- It sounds as if you, too, are unhappy with regulated-monopoly utilities. If there were any other way, we would be all over it, wouldn't we? Unfortunately, the public utility model (as opposed to outright government ownership) is probably the best we can do for things that require extensive and invasive infrastructure for their delivery (e.g., electricity and gas) until they no longer do (telecom). Though monopolies, they feel some push-back from their customers, and if they screw up real bad, they could see their authority yanked. Far worse it would be to have to go to the ACTUAL government for things. A bridge is not extensive infrastructure or invasive on a large scale the way power lines are. So I'd like to see three privately-owned bridges built and benefit from a price war. In addition, manmade structures such as bridges are beautiful.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Wil, You proved the counter argument. Try getting your electricity from another supplier. It is a legal monopoly for the service. Same with gas, and in Ann Arbor that monopoly is THE SAME company. Tell us oh wise one where there I can tell DTE to get the hell off my property. I am bringing in a new supplier. Even if I purchase natural gas from an outside firm it STILL is delivered through the DTE infrastructure and I MUST pay them for that service. International borders are an area that any sane person would say is the responsibility of the government. If not, you must be an employee of Haliburton who wants to profit from the fear of terrorism.

Will Warner

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Ed: &quot;Government can hardly take me for granted. Every two years I get to vote for (or against) at least some of those people in government.&quot; I get a distinct feeling of being taken for granted while standing in line at a Secretary of State office, knowing that no matter whom I vote for, it isn't going to get better until the SoS is subjected to the forces of of competition.

Ed Kimball

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

Government can hardly take me for granted. Every two years I get to vote for (or against) at least some of those people in government. There's a place for government-provided services and a place for services provided by private companies. But one or the other should certainly be providing another bridge to alleviate the long lines at the current bridge and tunnel.

Will Warner

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Forever27: &quot;Your examples run contrary to your argument.&quot; Touche. My parenthetical about monopolies is confusing. Telecom is no longer a monopoly, of course. The others are, but being businesses responsible for paying dividends to shareholders, I think they feel more pressure to do better than would government agencies for gas and electricity.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

I don't feel that Mouron feels pressure to do anything. His properties have, time and again, created irritating and unsafe conditions for drivers around Detroit. The guy's a slimeball and I'm pretty sure the government would be hard pressed to do worse.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

Electricity, gas, and telecom are three of the biggest monopolies out there. Your examples run contrary to your argument.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:04 p.m.

We DON'T NEED any more expenses, period.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

... and this bridge would NOT BE an expense, period.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

But you neglected to add....we need more revenue.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

There is no doubt a second bridge is needed. As long as our tax dollars are not paying for the bridge, then Matty has nothing to stand on. Matty has become a billionaire off this bridge alone along with all his other companies. Good Day


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

Mouroun must think we're a bunch of rubes. Does he not think that we can see through his opposing desires? On one hand he says the taxpayers will lose money, but on the other, he wants to build a second bridge. I hope our legislature can put the interests of the state and the nation before the money grubbing desires of a millionaire.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

He's actually a billionaire.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

&quot;One issue facing Moroun, however, is that the Canadian government has said it will not allow Moroun to build the bridge where he wants to build it. The Canadians say they will only build the bridge where the public-private partnership would build it.&quot; The misinformation has to stop. Norton in fact has said: &quot;The government of Canada has no interest in disadvantaging the Ambassador Bridge's long-term sustainability and has repeatedly said it would not block 'twinning' if that option were to receive the environmental and other approvals that it requires. &quot; And where, pray tell has this been put in writing that is legally enforceable: &quot;Canada has said that we'll guarantee the bridge.&quot; All Canada has offered is a maximum $550M loan!


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

Let's not stare too long into this gift horse's mouth. It's a great deal for Michigan and Ontario. Of course Mr. Moroun wants to keep riding this cash cow and opposes any competition in the bridge business. I would not expect less from him. Now if I had my ways, the bridge would be located downriver (say Ecorse or further south) so I would not have to drive into Detroit to cross the border. I can only wish.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

This is a clear example of how private-enterprise monopolies are generally bad. Build the second bridge - do it now, our municipal, county, state and regional economies are depending on it. Better to depend on public infrastructure than the profiteering and arrogance of a private monopoly run by one man. And keep tract of this guys elected cronies - they have sold YOU out to his money and will do it again.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:19 a.m.

Zeke, Excellent point about the &quot;elected cronies&quot;. They have blocked a public bridge for years now, holding up progress.

Chip Reed

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.

This is a no-brainer. Mr. Mouron is a powerful, influential man, but he shouldn't be allowed to profit indefinitely at the expense of two sovereign nations. His bogus push-poll recently was just another attempt at thwarting the will of the citizens of this area.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

This is indeed a no-brainer in that any Michigan legislator who doesn't OK the NITC bridge, needs a brain installation. (I can't say a brain transplant because that would posit that s/he already HAS a brain.)


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:34 a.m.

Craig, Agreed. There's money to be made and we should be making it! LOL Okay, a public bridge gets two votes!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:28 a.m.

Matty Moroun has made millions, if not billions in profits running the Ambassador Bridge. There is no inherent reason a publicly owned bridge can't produce a profit too. In my opinion an international border crossing is best not owned privately. Canada, a sovereign nation doesn't want a second crossing dumping out in their country where Matty Moroun wants to build it. That should pretty much say it all.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

&quot;Spoken like a true socialist.' spoken like a pragmatic realist. Rather than fling what you deem insults why not refute my contention. If the private sector can turn a profit on the bridge why can't the public sector? Why do you assume one is to be expected while the other is impossible?


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

... There is no inherent reason a publicly owned bridge can't produce a profit too... Spoken like a true socialist.