The following article, by Jeffrey Simpson, is extracted from the 20 June 2009 edition of “globeandmail.com”.
Could it be that after so many delays, false starts, political wrangling, engineering studies, competing proposals and plain old-fashioned inertia, a new bridge might soon be under construction between Windsor and Detroit, the busiest border crossing in North America?
Yes, there actually could be a new bridge, believe it or not.
With this project - an estimated $2-billion for the bridge, and more for the access roads on both sides of the border - nothing is ever guaranteed until the final rivet is in place. But on the Canadian side, all the political ducks are finally in line; and on the U.S. side, almost all of them are.
Except that in the U.S., a nation of lawyers, nothing is ever finally settled until the last lawsuit has expired&hellip.
The bridge is owned by one of the wealthiest men in the United States, billionaire Manuel (Matty) Moroun of Grosse Pointe. He owns a trucking conglomerate, dispenses political contributions (to 21 candidates in 2008, according to Campaignmoney.com), and keeps lawyers busy by filing lawsuits whenever matters are not going his way.
Which they are not. Mr. Moroun opposes the new bridge proposed by the U.S. and Canadian governments. He insists it will unfairly compete with his Ambassador Bridge, and the new bridge he will build, operate and own adjacent to the existing Ambassador that will eventually be phased out&hellip.
Alas for Mr. Moroun, the Department of Homeland Security does not favour his project, fearing terrorists could knock out one bridge, thereby crippling commerce among other losses. Nor does the U.S. Coast Guard favour Mr. Moroun’s efforts. It recently ordered preliminary work stopped on his new bridge. Nor does the Democratic delegation in Congress from Michigan, with one exception.
Nor does the mayor of Detroit. Nor does the state government&hellip.
Mr. Moroun has just launched a lawsuit, claiming the U.S. government agencies had not followed their own rules in turning him down.
Unless this Hail Mary lawsuit succeeds - and very few people give it a hope - work will start later this year on the Windsor side preparing ground for the access from the 401 highway to the new six-lane bridge&hellip.
Many Windsorites wanted a tunnel from the 401 to the bridge, but the cost would have been astronomical. Now, it appears Mayor Francis and Queen’s Park have reached an agreement whereby some of the access road will be sunken, although not tunnelled. With that compromise, the last hurdle fell on the Canadian side for a new bridge so long discussed, so long delayed.
The federal, provincial and municipal governments in Canada, and the federal, state and local governments on the U.S. side would appear all in agreement, finally, that a new bridge is needed and that it should be the publicly financed one. The Canadian section will likely be built through a public-private partnership&hellip.
It almost seems too good to be true: a new bridge by 2015. Hold your breath.