Ambassador Bridge

The Ambassador Bridge
user Patr1ck / Wikimedia Commons

A week after the election, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is switching gears from fighting a ballot proposal that sought to block a new international bridge, to taking further steps to build the New International Trade Crossing bridge.

Governor Snyder's office and top Canadian officials are getting more information out about the proposed bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

After spending around $40 million to try to block a new international bridge downriver of their Ambassador Bridge, the Moroun family issued a statement that said in part "like any family business, we would do it again - and will in different ways - to defend economic freedom and limited government." Now the new bridge moves forward.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A giant tour bus outside the Grand Rapids hotel where Governor Rick Snyder spoke Monday says it all – vote yes on prop one and no on the rest.

Snyder, some business leaders and even an emergency financial manager will be on the bus for the four day tour. They’ll stop in towns throughout the state to discuss the proposals.

Governor Snyder says he’s trying to better inform voters about their options.

You might say there was more than usual going on last night. There was the last game of the National League baseball playoffs, in which San Francisco completed a dramatic comeback to take on the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Meanwhile, on another channel, the Detroit Lions were blowing their Monday night football game.

And Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were locked in the final debate of the closest presidential campaign in years, this time arguing about foreign policy and the state of the world.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan curriculum has disappointing results

"An effort to improve Michigan’s high school academic standards appears to be having a disappointing result. The Michigan Merit Curriculum was implemented in Michigan high schools in 2006. Researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and the state of Michigan found that test scores improved only slightly for students  entering high school with strong academic skills.   But for those with weak skills, test scores fell and graduation rates declined," Steve Carmody reports.

Snyder says Prop 6 would cause court battle if passed

"Governor Rick Snyder is worried Proposal 6 on the November ballot would spark a lengthy court battle if it’s passed. The initiative would require a state-wide vote before any new international crossing could be built in the state. Governor Rick Snyder says his plan for a new international bridge in Detroit is not meant to put the existing Ambassador Bridge out of business. Current bridge owners say a new bridge is not necessary, and would be expensive for Michigan taxpayers. Canada has agreed to front the costs of the new bridge, and a number of studies have concluded there will be no new costs to state taxpayers," Jake Neher reports.

McCotter aids in court for campaign scandal

"Two men who worked for a Detroit-area congressman are returning to court to learn if they'll stand trial in a campaign scandal. Paul Seewald and Don Yowchuang are charged with conspiring to get then-Congressman Thaddeus McCotter on the 2012 ballot with bogus petitions. The judge says he'll make a decision on the matter today," the AP reports.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is focused on the Michigan ballot with two weeks to go before Election Day.

On Monday, Snyder appeared alongside Canadian consul general Roy Norton at a Canada-United States Business Association meeting town hall in Detroit.

Both men asked Michigan and Canadian business leaders to support the proposed New International Trade Crossing. And both urged a “no” vote on Proposal 6, which would require a statewide referendum on any new international crossings. He says he’s in “campaign mode.”

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."    

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Detroit Free Press reports that the United Auto Workers union - no friend to Governor Rick Snyder - is considering a deal with billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun - also no friend to the Governor.

The deal would involve Moroun helping the union pay for ads in support of Proposal 2, which would enshrine labor organizing rights in the state constitution.

Concept NITC Drawing
NITC

Mickey Blashfield, Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun's director of government relations and head of the Moroun-financed group "The People Should Decide" released a statement following a report from the Detroit Free Press on a possible deal between the UAW and Moroun.

One of the proposed constitutional amendments on the Michigan ballot this fall would require a statewide vote before state money could be spent on any “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” could be built in Michigan. The amendment would require the vote even before any tax money could be spent planning an international crossing. This would effectively stop the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor. The effort is funded by the family that owns the Ambassador bridge.

Michigan Radio

A report commissioned by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge says Gov. Rick  Snyder has not given voters enough information about the economic impact of a proposed new span over the Detroit River. 

The analysis by a Grand Rapids consulting firm says plans for the new bridge are not economically feasible.

"A CEO in the private sector making a multi-billion-dollar investment with concerns about the bottom line in shareholder return would put this proposal under a lot more scrutiny than it appears the governor has," says Patrick O'Keefe, CEO of O'Keefe and Associates.

As election day approaches, you’re likely to see a lot of ads critical of an agreement between Canada and Michigan regarding a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

[Ad Clip:] “It will cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million a year.”

Whether Michigan taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of that bridge is at the heart of a fierce debate about the agreement.

The election is six weeks away, and the vast majority of the media attention has been on whether President Obama or Mitt Romney will win the state. But I think that in Michigan, the real importance may be about something bigger.

This election will also determine whether one incredibly rich man can essentially buy our government for his own selfish interest.

That man is Matty Moroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River. He is 85 years old, and according to Forbes, is worth close to two billion dollars.

Elaine Ezekiel / Michigan Radio

The Board of State Canvassers deadlocks on the ballot proposal that would require public votes to construct a new international bridge. The measure is backed by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, who are trying to block a competing bridge. They could now go to court to get on the ballot.

Jim Wallace / flickr.com

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge are trying to renew an environmental permit for a proposed twin span.

The twin span idea has been rejected by both Governor Snyder and Canadian officials. They’ve already signed a deal to build a new bridge, the so-called New International Trade Crossing, further downriver.

(Updated)

A newly created group is challenging a ballot petition that would require a vote on future international bridge and tunnel crossings.

The group Taxpayers Against Monopolies supports a New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor, so it’s challenging a ballot petition filed by The People Should Decide which is supported by the Ambassador Bridge owners, the Moroun family.

The ballot petition would require a vote on all international crossings that use any taxpayer money.

Dilapidated homes in Delray near Detroit.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The fight between Governor Rick Snyder and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun about a new bridge connecting Detroit and Canada will be in the news for the foreseeable future. What’s often lost in the arguments is the people of the Detroit neighborhood where the new bridge will land.

Elaine Ezekiel / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder is pushing for a new $2 billion bridge from Detroit to Canada. The owners of the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge are fighting to stop that new bridge. The latest move is to get a constitutional amendment calling for a vote of the people before building any new bridge to cross the border. That will give the company another avenue to delay or stop the new bridge from being built.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The arguments for and against building a new bridge to Canada at Detroit, for the most part, have been pretty one-sided. The owners of the Ambassador Bridge are fighting it and spending tons of money in TV ads. 

If you watch TV at all, you’ve probably seen one of the Ambassador Bridge-sponsored ads criticizing plans for a new bridge.

“Governor Snyder says, ‘Send Canada the bill.’ But, the Canadians have other ideas.”

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There’s been a lot of confusion about how much a new bridge across the Canadian border at Detroit might cost taxpayers. TV ads say it will cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million a year. The governor says it will cost Michigan nothing.

http://buildthedricnow.com

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says we need a new bridge to Canada. It will mean more trade and more and better jobs. Not everyone agrees, especially the owners of the single bridge in Detroit which connects Michigan to Canada.

Eight thousand trucks a day cross the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The Ambassador Bridge.
Lester Graham

The question of whether to build a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario has been the source of ongoing conflict between Gov. Snyder and Matty Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge Company.

Reporter Lester Graham, with Michigan Watch, will bring us a special five-part series on the debate about building a new bridge. The series begins on Monday August 13.

The Ambassador Bridge
user Mikerussel / Wikimedia Commons

Detroit police say they received another bomb threat on the Ambassador Bridge on Wednesday evening. This time, authorities kept the busy international crossing open while they investigated the call.

Police said the call came about 5:15 p.m, and the site was "officially cleared" for safety at 7 p.m.

This latest bomb threat is the second called on the bridge this week, and it marks the third recent bomb threat on transportation links between the United States and Canada.

On July 12, someone called in a similar threat on the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. 

The previous two calls resulted in several-hour shutdowns of the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor tunnel, which allowed police to search the area.  No bombs were found during either search.

After receiving the latest threat to the Ambassador Bridge on Wednesday, Sgt. Eren Stephens says, police let traffic continue, reports the AP.

A statement from police says "preliminary Intelligence" indicates that Wednesday's caller "may have made hoax bomb threats in the past."

Authorities let Comerica Park remain open Tuesday despite another bomb threat during a Detroit Tigers game.

The Detroit News also reported that a bomb squad responded to a report of a suspicious package found at Cobo Center last Monday.

Although the bomb-related threats occurred over a short time period, it remains unclear if the calls are made by the same people or person, reported the Wall Street Journal:

Andrew Arena, the former head of the Detroit FBI office who now is executive director of the Detroit Crime Commission, said bomb-threat hoaxes often come in bunches. "Is it one person or a copycat? A lot of times somebody does this and then copycat people jump on board," he said. "It's certainly a stress on law enforcement and everybody who has to respond to this stuff."

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Vincent Duffy

Last week, a bomb threat called in from Canada shut down the tunnel that runs under the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor. The tunnel is the second busiest crossing between the United States and Canada. The busiest crossing is the Ambassador Bridge just more than a mile down river. The tunnel was closed to traffic for most of the afternoon while authorities from both countries inspected the tunnel and found no bomb.

The Ambassador Bridge
user Patr1ck / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder says last night's bomb-threat that closed the Ambassador bridge for hours provides another reason to build a second bridge.

Last week, when a similar bomb-threat closed down the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham had his mind 1.5 miles down river, on the Ambassador Bridge. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Traffic again is rolling across the Ambassador Bridge, a U.S.-Canada span that was closed for hours while authorities checked out a bomb threat.

The threat came Monday night to the U.S. side of the bridge in Detroit. There was a similar threat four days earlier to a nearby tunnel crossing.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, traffic was at normal levels as rush hour approached Tuesday morning.

Detroit police say someone called 911 around 7:20 p.m. Monday, saying a bomb would go off in 10 minutes.

user Mikerussell from Wikimedia Commons

Updated

A reported bomb threat closed the Detroit Windsor Tunnel today for several hours. Almost all of the tunnel’s traffic is passenger cars. Traffic was diverted to the only other alternative to cross the border, the Ambassador Bridge. Congestion slowed traffic.

It was certainly an inconvenience for travelers, but the economic impact of the tunnel closure was minimal.

However, if the Ambassador Bridge were closed for hours or days for any reason, it would be a much different story.

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At a press conference in Windsor, Ont. today, Gov. Rick Snyder joined Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper to announce the New International Trade Crossing Agreement. This agreement, according to the Governor’s Office, will bolster trade, simplify travel and provide as many as 10,000 temporary and permanent jobs by allowing the construction of a new bridge over the Detroit River connecting the cities of Detroit and Ontario.

Jim Wallace / flickr.com

A new bridge crossing connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario will create more than 8,000 permanent jobs, according to a new study.

The study comes from the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, an industry-sponsored group.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Detroit Mayor hires firm to stop consent agreement challenge

The Detroit Free Press calls the case"the City of Detroit vs. the City of Detroit."

Mayor Dave Bing has been trying to convince city council to join him in stopping the city's lead attorney from going forward with a legal challenge against the city's consent agreement with the state. Now he's hired lawyers of his own:

Mayor Dave Bing, exasperated by the lead city attorney's unwillingness to drop her challenge of the financial deal meant to spare Detroit from the appointment of an emergency manager, has brought in hired legal guns to try to quash her complaint.

Bing has hired attorneys from Miller Canfield -- the same law firm the mayor contracted to broker the consent deal with the state and a bond agreement that kept the city financially afloat -- to file a motion to intervene against the city's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, people familiar with the decision told the Free Press on condition they not be named because they're not authorized to speak on the issue.

Crittendonwill be in Ingham County Circuit  Court today where she's expected to request an expedited decision in the case.

Protests in Lansing over potential abortion legislation

Protestors opposing a set of bills aimed at putting restrictions on abortion were in Lansing yesterday. MPRN's Rick Pluta reported protestors said the bills would force some clinics that provide an array of services to women to shut down.

They were protesting a group of anti-abortion bills to be voted on this week by the House. The legislation would outlaw terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks. It would also require clinics to be inspected, and impose new restrictions on abortion providers.           

“Frankly, these bills terrify me,” said Susie Simons of East Lansing.

Announcement on new bridge to Canada expected

Since he's become Governor, Rick Snyder has been pushing for a second bridge linking Detroit to Canada. Now it appears plans for that second bridge are coming together.

From the Toronto Star:

A deal to build a second bridge linking Windsor and Detroit will be announced this week, sparking hope that the chronic congestion at Canada’s busiest border crossing will soon be relieved.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to join with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on the Windsor waterfront for the official announcement on Friday, a source told the Toronto Star Tuesday.

Jim Wallace / flickr.com

A new report from a Washington-based watchdog group finds Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun spending a lot of money to influence Congress.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington--or CREW--tracked campaign donations from Moroun’s family, company, and associates.

Their examination of campaign finance data found more than $1.5 million in Congressional donations from 2004 through the first quarter of 2012.

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