The Traverse City Record-Eagle
‘Matty” Moroun thinks you’re stupid. And he’s betting millions that he’s right.
The billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge has waged a multimillion-dollar snow job — you’ve surely seen the ads — urging you to contact your state senator and tell him to vote against Michigan and Canadian efforts to build a second bridge across the Detroit River.
It may be a little hard to figure out exactly what the ads are saying, in large part because so much of what they claim is absolute fiction. The latest version, for instance, says Gov. Rick Snyder will somehow hold up road money from northern Michigan unless Sen. Howard Walker, a Traverse City Republican, votes for the state-backed bridge.
That’s hooey. But then most of Moroun’s campaign — widely described as almost totally false — is hooey. Here are the highlights:
Michigan and Canada want to build a second bridge across the Detroit River to decrease congestion on the Ambassador Bridge and make it easier to ship goods back and forth. The Detroit-Windsor crossing is already one of the busiest trade routes in the world.
The new bridge would cost an estimated $3.8 billion.
When Michigan said it couldn’t afford its $550 million match, Canada said the bridge would be worth so much in new trade it would pay Michigan’s share. That’s $550 million with no strings attached.
As a bonus, the federal government said that not only would the $550 million represent Michigan’s contribution to the bridge, it would also represent the state’s match for $2.2 billion in federal highway money. That’s money the state was counting on to repair roads and do other highway work and wouldn’t get otherwise.
Michigan and Canada say tolls from the bridge will pay to operate it.
Just about everyone on the planet — except Moroun, who wants to scuttle the effort so he can build his own new span — supports the new bridge.
Just this week the Michigan Chamber of Commerce signed on in support of the new bridge, joining Snyder, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Corp., Detroit-area economic organizations, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, the cities of Detroit and Windsor, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.
The list of backers — one newspaper described it as a “Yellow Pages-sized list” — also includes a host of manufacturing, transportation and other business organizations.
The Michigan Campaign Finance Network says Moroun has spent $5 million in ads but hasn’t reported a dime of it as a lobbying expense.
The next time you see one of those ads, ask yourself this: If the new bridge is such a despicable deal for Michigan, why does Moroun want so desperately to build one himself?