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Gordie Howe Bridge

Ken Lund / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

In a move that surprised many, the government of Canada this week gave the owners of the Ambassador Bridge permission to build a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit.

Canada, Ontario, and the city of Windsor have all had a contentious, even cantankerous, relationship with the Moroun family, which owns the Ambassador Bridge.

ambassador bridge
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The family that owns the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, got a boost to its plans for a new bridge that will replace the current 87-year-old one.

The Moroun family said the Canadian government has granted approval for this new cable-stayed, six-lane bridge.

Ambassador Bridge
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

No matter how bizarre your fantasies, reality is sometimes crazier. Nobody could have written a script for what’s happened in national politics.

Nobody ever thought we’d be in some kind of nuclear standoff with North Korea. And few if any expected the Canadian government would ever grant Matty Moroun permission to build a new bridge next to his old Ambassador Bridge.

Ambassador Bridge
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

The Canadian government has given final approval for expanding the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The U.S. approved the permit for a new bridge last year.

The Ambassador Bridge
Mike Russell / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Court of Claims has thrown out yet another attempt to stop the Gordie Howe International Bridge from ever getting built.

The lawsuit came from a suite of companies owned by the Moroun family, which also owns the competing Ambassador Bridge.

The family has tried all kinds of legal maneuvers over the past few years to stop the Howe Bridge in its tracks.

The Ambassador Bridge
Mike Russell / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There was a story two days ago that was almost entirely ignored in America, but which has significant implications for this part of the world. Dave Battagello of the Windsor Star reported that the new Gordie Howe International Bridge will be delayed another full year.

money
khrawlings / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Rick Snyder this week signed off on a set of bills he hopes will help lure some big employers to Michigan. The new law lets employers that meet certain criteria keep some or all of their employees' state income tax.

The Detroit neighborhood of Delray
wikimedia user Notorious4life / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Detroit City Council has approved a set of community benefits for people living near the future site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Detroit will pay for the new programs with revenue from selling the state of Michigan land in its southwest Delray neighborhood to make way for the construction of the publicly-funded bridge. 

Matty Moroun, the billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge across the Detroit River, turned 90 earlier this month. I don’t know how he celebrated, but I do know something happened last week that may well have ruined his birthday.

The Detroit neighborhood of Delray
wikimedia user Notorious4life / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The city of Detroit will get $48 million in a deal with the state related to construction of a new bridge to Canada.

The city is selling the state land in the Delray neighborhood, where the Gordie Howe International Bridge will be built.

Mayor Mike Duggan wants the money to go to a neighborhood improvement fund, job training for city residents, and air and health monitoring in southwest Detroit.

Six years ago, Governor Rick Snyder found a way to conclude a deal with Canada to build a new bridge across the Detroit River, something vitally needed if Michigan’s economy is to prosper in the years ahead.

As of now, we are completely dependent on the almost 90-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which shows clear signs of wearing out, and which wasn’t built for today’s massive tractor-trailers. About $2 billion in trade moves across that bridge every week, mainly heavy industrial components that can’t go through the tunnel.

Nobody can deny that Governor Rick Snyder is an intelligent and hard-working man. He came from very modest circumstances to earn three degrees, including an MBA and a law degree, from the University of Michigan by the time he was 24.

The Ambassador Bridge could have a new neighbor (the Gordie Howe International Bridge) by early 2022.
Michael Carian / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit are suing Governor Snyder and the Michigan Department of Transportation over the proposed new Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Former Attorney General Mike Cox is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit claims only the state legislature is authorized to approve a new international bridge, and since the legislature didn't do so, the agreement between the Snyder administration and Canada (which is paying the entire cost) is illegal.

A spokeswoman for the governor says, "We disagree, and we are proceeding as planned."

The Ambassador Bridge could have a new neighbor (the Gordie Howe International Bridge) by early 2022.
Michael Carian / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There was a story in the Windsor Star recently about delays to the new bridge project between Detroit and Windsor. Anne Jarvis from the Windsor Star joined Stateside after reporting the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority has more-or-less gone from building the Gordie Howe International Bridge to explaining why it isn’t being built yet.

On the Michigan side, Andy Doctoroff is the special project adviser to Governor Rick Snyder and he’s the point person on the Gordie Howe International Bridge. He joined Stateside to give the Michigan side of the story. 

The big question on everyone's mind on both sides of the border is when will this bridge be completed? 

Gary Elrod / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The new international trade crossing between Detroit and Windsor seemed to be making all kinds of progress. In 2015, the Canadian government agreed to pick up Michigan’s share of the Gordie Howe Bridge’s cost, removing a major hurdle to the project’s completion.

While the Canadians were at work building approaches on their side of the Detroit River, Michigan was supposed to be purchasing the necessary property to do the same on the U.S. side.

But somewhere along the way, progress stalled. 

David MacNaughton, Canada’s relatively new ambassador to the United States, came to Detroit yesterday, to speak to an important but too-little known group, CUSBA, or the Canada-United States Business Association. Our relationship with Canada is, by far, the most important one there is for both countries.

Canadians always know that; Americans tend to forget.

Detroit-Windsor is also easily both countries’ most economically important border crossing. The Canadian consulate graciously invited me to lunch with the ambassador, a witty and urbane man who isn’t a typical career diplomat. After serving his nation briefly as a young man, he went on to build his own political PR firm, sold it, and went on to run two more. .

Spacing Magazine / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rebecca Kruth talk about a failed attempt to get recreational pot on the ballot this November, a report that the owners of the Ambassador Bridge might soon throw some legal hurdles down river to block construction of the Gordie Howe Bridge, and the latest chapter in the rivalry between Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette.


For years, those who know how badly our economy needs a new bridge over the Detroit River have waged an epic battle with Matty Moroun, owner of the aging Ambassador Bridge.

For a long time, Moroun, the 89-year-old-billionaire holder of the 87-year old bridge managed to thwart any attempt to build a new bridge at what is America and Canada’s most economically important border crossing. Billions of dollars in trade cross over it every week.

The Detroit neighborhood of Delray
wikimedia user Notorious4life / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Once it's built, the Gordie Howe International Bridge from Windsor to Detroit will be one of Michigan's most important tools for international trade.

 

It's projected that truck traffic will double from the current 10,000 to some 20,000 trucks each day rumbling through the southwest Detroit neighborhood of Delray.

 

So what's good for Michigan trade – not to mention America's and Canada's trade – is going to be felt deeply by the folks living there.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is paying to clean up the Delray neighborhood, the community that will host the U.S. side of a new bridge to Canada.

The money comes from the $1.4 million the city received when the state purchased Delray land for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

Residents hope it’s just the first of a number of investments in Delray as that project moves forward.

Most people know there are two ways to cross the Detroit River into or from Canada: The Ambassador Bridge, or for passenger cars only, the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. 

But there's another little-known way only used by vehicles too long or too big to navigate the bridge, or those hauling hazardous materials.

And that's the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry, which is at the end of a little-used road two miles south of the current bridge, close to where the new bridge is to be built.

Courtesy: Michigan Department of Transportation

When the Gordie Howe International Bridge from Canada to the U.S. is complete, it’s expected that thousands of trucks a day will travel through the Detroit neighborhood of Delray. Residents there want the government to keep additional pollution to a minimum.

The entrance to Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The new bridge planned between Detroit and Canada will land on the U.S. side near one of Michigan's landmark jewels. Historic Fort Wayne dates back to the 1840s and played many roles in U.S. military history.

While Detroit residents are aware of the fort, many Michigan residents outside of the city say they don't know much about its history and have never visited. So here's a short video on the history of the fort and a look at what little that's known about its future.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

It doesn't look like the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority is going to have trouble finding companies to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge between the U.S. and Canada. 

The WDBA met with interested construction and engineering firms during several informational sessions in Detroit and Windsor this week. 

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

The proposed new bridge linking Detroit and Windsor is taking an important step today.  

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority says it is asking for major contractors interested in building the multi-billion dollar Gordie Howe International Bridge to submit their qualifications.

It now looks as though the Gordie Howe International Bridge is certain to become reality. Investors have to be lined up and there is still more work to be done before shovels go into the ground, but all the major political and legal challenges have been overcome.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Michigan really is lucky to have a friend like Canada and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Canada will foot most of the $2 billion bill for building the newly named Gordie Howe International Bridge, connecting Detroit to Windsor.

The Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry
truckferry.com

 

There have been many voices speaking up in favor of a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

Top Canadian officials, Gov. Rick Snyder, big business all hunger for this planned new bridge to be built about two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge.

But one of those speaking up for a new bridge is someone who stands to lose his livelihood once the bridge is up and carrying traffic.

 

In late July, Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian officials vowed to move ahead with plans to build the New International Trade Crossing Bridge by appointing the International Bridge Authority in Windsor. 

Detroit Free Press Business Writer John Gallagher has been looking at the progress and the obstacles for the new bridge to Windsor.

He reported that with a new CEO on board and plans to hire staffers moving ahead, the bridge project seemed sure to get built. But there are still unknowns that can delay the completion date targeted around 2020.

One of the main obstacles is the legal challenge raised by the Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge.

The week in Michigan politics

Jul 30, 2014
Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what races and issues to follow before next week's primary election, how Detroit's emergency manager has shifted responsibilities of the city's water department to Mayor Mike Duggan after controversies for water shut offs, and recent developments with the new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, ON.

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