Court’s rejection of environmental challenge clears next step for new bridge crossing

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” – Isaac Asimov

The new bridge crossing between Detroit and Windsor took another step toward reality after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an environmental challenge filed by community groups purportedly representing the Delray neighborhood of Detroit and the Detroit International Bridge Co.  The court determined that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Executive Order 12898 (environmental justice) in selecting the Delray neighborhood as the anchor point for the American side of the New International Trade Crossing (NITC).  By taking a “hard look” at the environmental and social impacts of the Delray crossing alternative, the FHWA complied with the law.

Under NEPA, each federal agency must consider the environmental, human health, economic and social effects of any major federal action before it can act. The FHWA spent eight years, conducted numerous public meetings with experts and stakeholders, and issued over 100 reports on various aspects of the NITC in making its final decision, which was memorialized and incorporated into a “Record of Decision” or “ROD.” Under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), the court’s review of the agency’s decision is limited to the ROD.

Signed into law by Richard Nixon, NEPA is one of the oldest environmental laws in the United States. Unlike other environmental laws, its focus is not on regulated activity, but instead on federal agency decision-making. NEPA contains no substantive requirements, but instead sets up procedural requirements that force all federal agencies to consider environmental and other impacts of an agency’s actions before it can act and commit federal resources.

As long as the procedures are followed and there is evidence in the record to support its final decision, courts cannot reverse an agency’s decision, even if more environmentally or socially beneficial options exist. The process includes public notice and comment, and an analysis of the environmental and social impacts of a proposed course of action, including an analysis of other feasible options, including a no-action alternative.  Courts are extremely deferential to an agency’s decision and will not substitute its own judgment for that of the agency. In sum, NEPA challenges are very difficult to win for those opposing an agency’s decision.

With respect to the NITC-specific challenges, the court dismissed each of the following:

  • The FHWA “pre-committed” to building a government-owned bridge. COURT: The ROD demonstrated that ownership and governance of the new bridge was an open question, with the FHWA selecting a bridge that is jointly owned by Canada and the United States with some private involvement in the “design, financing, operations and/or maintenance.”
  • The FHWA did not independently consider and simply accepted Canada’s rejection of a new span adjacent to the existing Ambassador Bridge. COURT: The FHWA conducted its own analysis and found the alternative ranked highly in some categories, but not acceptable in others. That option’s downfall rested on the lack of highway-to-highway connections, significant community disruption and environmental issues on the Canadian side of the proposed bridge, and lack of redundancy (this is, one primary purpose of the new bridge was to provide a second crossing in the event of terrorist attack or natural disaster, which a second, adjacent span would not provide).
  • The FHWA considered the wrong “no-build” alternative, because a privately built second span with six lanes would have provided sufficient capacity for anticipated increases in traffic, which included the use of four lanes on the existing span. COURT: The Detroit International Bridge Co.’s own statement indicated that the existing four lanes would very likely not be available, but “could be” if “circumstances so demand.” The FHWA decides for itself what alternatives it will look at, but even considering the 10-lane alternative, the FHWA could consider that alternative unreliable due to the inconsistent statements.  Finally, the FHWA determined in its discretion that the “no-build” alternative did not meet a variety of other requirements.
  • The FHWA relied on old traffic data to support its decision. COURT: A Canadian-commissioned traffic study was not done for the purposes of the new bridge but done solely as a means of determining whether it could meet its financial obligations, so the FHWA could decide not to include it in its review.  Other reports were generated after the ROD was prepared and could not be considered in the review of the FHWA’s decision.
  • The FHWA did not conduct a “hard look” at the potential negative impacts on the minority and low-income Delray neighborhood. COURT: While there was some question whether the FHWA’s decision could be reviewed on environmental justice grounds, the FHWA did include environmental justice in its review in its ROD, so the court considered it. FHWA considered impacts early and consistently throughout the process, finding that the Delray option scored better on the local community than other alternatives.  As long as the FHWA considered the impacts and documented its review, it had the discretion to select its preferred option.

NEPA is often used by groups seeking to stop or delay projects from happening. If the plaintiffs in this matter were successful in their challenge, the result would not have been the death knell for the NITC, but only an admonishment from the court to go back and supplement the record with whatever item the agency may have forgotten to consider or appropriately document. In this case, the FHWA was extremely thorough and supported its decision with eight years of study, public involvement and documentation. This chapter of the new proposed Detroit-to-Windsor bridge has closed. Although we can expect more legal challenges, they will not be likely based on environmental or socioeconomic grounds.

Originally posted by: Crain’s Detroit Business

The Star’s View: Duggan’s photo op with Moroun doesn’t spell DRIC disaster

The sight of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan standing elbow to elbow with Matthew Moroun this week did more than raise eyebrows.

It made people speculate about whether the new mayor had formed some kind of unholy alliance with Matthew’s billionaire father Matty, the much reviled owner of the Ambassador Bridge.

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib could scarcely contain her disbelief at the sight of the two beaming men as they prepared to tear down an old and vacant family-owned building; one conveniently located right near their bridge.

“What’s very concerning is Mayor Duggan standing side-by-side with the Morouns — the biggest blighter in Detroit,” she said. Tlaib pointed out that bringing in the wrecking ball wasn’t creating jobs or benefiting the community, so why was the mayor in attendance? “I’m actually in shock,” she admitted.

The answer was simple. The mayor was there because it was the perfect photo op. How better to show he was making good on his promise to clean up the urban blight than by starting with the Moroun family, which just happens to hold the deed to so many of the decaying, decrepit and dangerous buildings in that city?

(And to another 150 or more boarded-up homes and apartment buildings in Windsor which were assembled so he could knock them down to make room for a second bridge on this side of the border.)

Despite Matthew’s claim that the partnership “demonstrates that corporations and civic leaders can work toward common goals of creating safer neighbourhoods,” everybody understands the real motivation behind the decision.

The Morouns will tear down this and two other nearby buildings not to improve the community, but to expand their bridge maintenance facilities.

Just as Duggan seized an opportunity to prove he was already delivering on his plan to get rid of thousands of crumbling buildings, Matthew Moroun took the opportunity to play “the good corporate citizen” by razing buildings the family traditionally leaves boarded up for years.

Ironically, the old Michigan Central train station, abandoned for decades and an iconic symbol of their neglect, is not located close enough to the bridge to warrant repair or removal. Funny how that worked.

We’re convinced this was a media event staged to serve their own best interests, and that it will not impact in any way on the new DRIC crossing.

First, the City of Detroit is among a group of leaders urging President Obama to fund the customs plaza on the U.S. side to get the project moving faster. Duggan is the city’s CEO and primary signee.

Second, no matter what he does, the province and Ottawa are not going to let Moroun set one footing of a second span on our shores. Unless we’re missing something, it’s a moot point.

Originally posted by: The Windsor Star

Automakers, unions, groups urge Obama to fund bridge plaza

Washington — Detroit’s Big Three automakers, a group of unions, several cities and groups urged President Barack Obama to fund a customs plaza for a newly planned Detroit-Windsor bridge crossing.

The New International Trade Crossing has won several key court battles and won a permit from the U.S. Coast Guard.

In a letter to Obama, the groups, Detroit, Grand Rapids and others, urged prompt action — and like the Michigan congressional delegation — want the White House to tap a point person to help speed the process.

More than 8 million United States jobs rely on trade with Canada and one-fifth of that commerce comes from Detroit, the groups said.

“With over $51 billion in vehicle exportation to Canada, the NITC will increase trade efficiencies. In the next thirty years, the Public Border Operators Association predicts trucking across the border will double. The need for the NITC is vital for long term job creation and economic growth,” the groups — including the United Auto Workers and Michigan Farm Bureau — told Obama.

The White House budget proposal unveiled in March doesn’t include any specific funding for new customs plazas in Michigan, including the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron or the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor.

“It is a gateway towards a brighter future in the City of Detroit. Many people will have the opportunity to train in the skilled trades through new and novel programs. Thousands of people will have the opportunity to work directly and indirectly on the project,” the letter sent to Obama Friday said. “The NITC would also be a key part of a transportation, distribution, and logistics hub that would produce long term job creation and economic growth. Detroit is in the middle of a fantastic rebound. This bridge will provide fuel to keep our economic engine moving forward, but it will also be a symbol of the rebirth of the city and the region.”

Canadian officials have said a federal funding void would delay completion of the new Detroit bridge past the original 2020 target date. The Canadian government expects the United States to finance $250 million for the bridge customs plaza while it funds the vast majority of the $2.1 billion new Detroit bridge. It remains unclear whether the Michigan congressional delegation could get $250 million inserted during the budget process.

Michigan Democratic lawmakers in March pushed for the Obama administration to name a point person for the bridge project. Gov. Rick Snyder also has expressed frustration the federal government hasn’t committed the money, which a Wayne State University economic expert said would delay the creation of thousands of spinoff jobs for Detroit.

“The decision to not prioritize this project in the budget was a grave oversight, but we can continue to work togetherto make this customs plaza a reality,” Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said in March.

The proposed NITC calls for a six-lane bridge spanning the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor.

“The NITC project brings together business, labor, and government to produce middle class jobs that Michigan desperately needs. This is responsible economic development the federal government should support,” said Michigan State AFL-CIO President, Karla Swift.

Business groups praise the plan.

“The NITC is so close to becoming reality. Canada has been incredibly gracious to fund the bridge, but it should be our responsibility to fund the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol needs. Canada is the top importer of U.S. goods for the majority of our states, and the NITC is imperative to economic growth, not only for Michigan, but the entire United States,” said Bret Jackson, president of the Economic Alliance for Michigan.

From David Shepardson, The Detroit News

Canadian Consul: new Detroit bridge a priority

Scott Pohl, WKAR

Canada has a new Consul General in Detroit. Douglas George has more than 30 years of experience in Canada’s foreign service, including working on the creation of the World Trade Organization and representing his country in places like Jamaica and Kuwait.

Now, he represents Canadian interests in Michigan and three other states. Current State’s Scott Pohl caught up with him for a conversation about his career and the role of the Canadian consulate in Detroit.

Douglas George says the major focus of the Canadian government in the Midwest these days is the push for a new international bridge crossing the Detroit River.

Listen to the conversation: click here

Originally posted by: WKAR

U.S. appeals court upholds Detroit-Windsor bridge plan

David Shepardson
The Detroit News

A three-judge federal appeals court panel Friday upheld a decision by the Federal Highway Administration to select the Delray neighborhood of Detroit as the preferred location for a new international bridge crossing to Canada.

The decision upheld a 2012 ruling by U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn dismissing a lawsuit by the Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development, Citizens with Challenges, Detroit Association of Black Organizations and other community groups — along with the Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns the privately held Ambassador Bridge. The groups sued the Federal Highway Administration in 2010 over its decision to approve the bridge location in Delray.

“The record amply reflects that the (Federal Highway Administration’s) decision regarding (bridge) governance was a lengthy, reasoned process based on an objective analysis subject to public scrutiny throughout,” said the decision by Judge David Dowd of Ohio writing for the panel. The panel also rejected the contention the United States yielded to Canada’s opposition to adding a second span to the Ambassador Bridge, writing the U.S. did not “rubber stamp” the decision.

Opponents argued the FHA review and 2009 approval violated the National Environmental Protection Act, Administrative Procedures Act, principles of environmental justice and other federal laws.

The ruling is the latest setback to opponents challenging a new bridge crossing known as the New International Trade Crossing, which is slated to be two miles from the Ambassador Bridge.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a required permit for a publicly owned bridge from Detroit to Canada — clearing another key hurdle in the high-profile project. A federal judge in Washington, also earlier this month, rejected a legal motion to force the Coast Guard to issue a permit to Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun for his proposed six-lane span alongside the Ambassador Bridge.

Moroun’s bridge company has been fighting efforts by the state of Michigan and the Canadian government to build the bridge it insists will harm the Ambassador’s business. In court filings, the company argued it needs to build a second span across the Detroit River to handle traffic while it repairs the Ambassador so it can compete with the publicly financed bridge.

The Canadian government doesn’t expect to complete construction of the new bridge for at least another decade. The bridge could take even longer to finish because the Obama administration declined to propose $250 million for building a Detroit customs plaza in its annual budget plan — but Canada may opt to loan the money to the U.S. for the plaza. The Canadians plan to spend $2.1 billion buying land and for ramps and highway connections.

The appeals court noted the process to build a bridge began in 2001 with meetings between the United States and Canadian governments transportation agencies. In January 2004, a joint study concluded that for a number of reasons, including increasing traffic volume, economic security and national security concerns, additional border-crossing capacity, connectivity and redundancy was needed in the Detroit-Windsor area.

U.S. Appeals Court Chief Judge Alice Batchelder and Judge Danny Boggs joined the opinion. Boggs and Dowd were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, while Batchelder was named to the bench by President George W. Bush.

Originally posted by The Detroit News

Property buying for DRIC bridge remains on hold in U.S.

The Windsor Star

Dave Battagello

Property acquisition in Detroit to make room for the planned $1-billion Windsor-Detroit bridge has been slow to get off the ground, despite the federal government’s $631-million budget commitment in February.

The bulk of those funds was to be filtered into Michigan to help start the process of buying up properties to make room for the plaza and feeder roads in Delray — the industrial community where the Detroit River International Crossing will be located on the U.S. side.

The Michigan Department of Transportation was to be the recipient of those funds and help oversee the property buying effort which is anticipated to have an overall price tag of about $300 million.

Government leaders had said property buying would start in early spring, but seems to be stalled because of political wrangling.

The state government’s Republicans threw a wrench into the plan a few weeks ago when they passed a motion attached to the state transportation’s budget forbidding MDOT from spending anything this year on property buying for the DRIC bridge.

The state budget is not expected to be finalized until later this month, so there is hope the motion will be withdrawn But property buying is on hold pending a resolution.

Property required on the Canadian side for the bridge project in Brighton Beach — largely vacant land — is already in the hands of the Canadian government.

“The Government of Canada is continuing to work with the State of Michigan regarding the acquisition of property needed for the U.S. components of the project,” said Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada.

“We are in the process of completing the necessary land title searches. Next steps will include completion of property appraisals, property surveys and environmental assessments.”

Butler could not say exactly when property purchases might start.

There is some discussion that Gov. Rick Snyder may use the Detroit Port Authority as a conduit to purchase property in Detroit.

The contract for the port’s executive director John Jamian was not renewed last week by the board, causing some speculation that the Snyder administration may have a role in finding a successor.

Jamian, who had run the port for the past three years until his contract expired, would only say “I accomplished everything I needed to accomplish in three years” in a story that appeared in Crain’s magazine about his abrupt departure.

Under Michigan legislation, the Detroit port authority may acquire property rights on behalf of a partnership or corporation “considered by the authority to be necessary for the construction or efficient operation of a project.”

A spokesman for Snyder’s office did not respond Monday to The Star.

Windsor’s port authority under Canadian legislation has similar rights, but there has been no need to go down that road given how the federal government already has the lands it needs on the Windsor side for the bridge project, said David Cree, CEO for the Windsor Port Authority.

The remainder of the $631 million budgeted over two years by Ottawa for the DRIC bridge project is expected to go toward pre-construction planning and utility relocations.

Construction of the DRIC bridge is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Originally posted by The Windsor Star

Moroun bridge plan hits setback

Judge says Coast Guard can’t be forced to issue permit for Moroun’s second bridge

The Detroit News

Leonard Fleming and Charles E. Ramirez

A federal judge dealt a blow Friday to Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun by rejecting a legal motion to force the Coast Guard to issue a permit for his proposed twin span.

The judge’s ruling means construction of a publicly financed bridge called the New International Trade Crossing, backed by the Canadian government and Gov. Rick Snyder, would face competition only from the more than 80-year-old Ambassador.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said in her opinion that Moroun failed to prove the Coast Guard’s decision not to issue a navigational permit until certain property rights for Detroit land were bought is “arbitrary and capricious.”

Mickey Blashfield, director of government relations for the Detroit International Bridge Co., issued a statement Friday in reaction to the ruling:

“We respect the Court’s determination that our motion was premature as the NITC bridge is simply too uncertain at this time. We will continue to work toward construction of a new Ambassador Bridge span and await the processing and consideration of our remaining claims in this action.”

Moroun’s bridge company has been fighting efforts by the state of Michigan and the Canadian government to construct the bridge across the Detroit River that it insists will harm the Ambassador Bridge’s business. In court filings, the company argued it needs to build a second span across the Detroit River to handle traffic while it repairs the Ambassador so it can compete with the publicly financed bridge.

The Canadian government doesn’t expect to complete construction of the new bridge for at least another decade. The bridge could take even longer to finish because the Obama administration has failed to propose $250 million for building a Detroit customs plaza in its annual budget plan. The Canadian government is financing the rest of the $2 billion project.

Moroun’s legal team argued the Coast Guard’s failure to issue a navigational permit for its twin span inflicts “irreparable harm” on the bridge company. But Collyer said Moroun couldn’t prove he would be hurt because building of the competing publicly financed bridge “is by no means imminent or inevitable” since there is still legislative and regulatory maneuvering that could stop construction.

The judge also rejected Moroun’s contention that the Coast Guard’s decision exceeded its regulatory authority. The federal agency denied a permit to Moroun through “reasonable interpretations of its enabling statutes,” she wrote in her opinion.

The Coast Guard has decided not to issue a navigation permit for Moroun’s proposed second bridge until it purchases the air rights over the land in Detroit where it would build the second span — something the city has rejected.

“… Congress provided the Coast Guard with statutory authority to condition navigational permits on the acquisition of necessary property rights,” Collyer said.

A bridge company official argued in an affidavit that a Detroit official told him state officials instructed the city not to sell Moroun rights to two pieces of land needed to build a twin span.

Detroit’s Chief Operating Officer Gary Brown gave The Detroit News on Friday a copy of the Nov. 7 letter, which makes no mention of instructions from the state not to sell the land rights to Moroun’s company. Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel also said Snyder never instructed Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s team to deny Moroun the chance to buy the property rights.

“The NITC is one of the most important infrastructure projects with the utmost economic significance in our region, state and country, along with our largest trading partner, Canada. Continuing to move forward is essential. This ruling helps ensure that will happen,” Wurfel said Friday.

The Moroun family has spent more than $1 million since 2009 in its legislative fight against the state for the new bridge — separate from its legal maneuvers. More than $105,000 in political donations in the past five years has been donated to 18 of the 26 GOP senators who earlier this month voted to ban state purchases of land for the bridge.

Snyder and other proponents argue that the second span south of the Ambassador Bridge will bolster economic growth within America’s busiest international trade corridor and create jobs in Michigan.

Collyer’s ruling also gives the Coast Guard the right to prevent the Detroit International Bridge Co. from getting a permit to build a second span next to the Ambassador Bridge.

Originally posted by The Detroit News

Federal judge denies Ambassador Bridge owner’s injunction request against rival span

Federal judge denies Ambassador Bridge owner’s injunction request against rival span

By Todd Spangler
Detroit Free Press Washington Staff

WASHINGTON — A federal judge Friday refused to stop the Coast Guard from issuing a permit allowing construction of a new bridge to rival the privately owned 84-year-old Ambassador Bridge.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer denied the request by Manuel (Matty) Moroun and his family, who control the Ambassador Bridge, saying they hadn’t shown that issuance of a Coast Guard permit for the rival bridge would inevitably cause “irreparable harm” to their enterprise.

While Collyer said the Ambassador Bridge’s owners, who say they want to build a second span of their own bridge, could be hurt in their efforts to find private capital for their project if a permit was issued, “the degree of this harm is not clear.”

“Upon close examination, the Court finds that (the bridge owner’s) contentions are unduly speculative and, therefore, insufficient to justify preliminary injunctive relief,” the judge said.

It means the Coast Guard is free to authorize the permit for the New International Trade Crossing, a span that would be paid for by Canada about two miles away from the existing bridge. The Moroun family has said it could take up to 75% of the old bridge’s traffic away.

Ambassador Bridge official Mickey Blashfield said in a statement: “We respect the Court’s determination that our motion was premature as the NITC bridge is simply too uncertain at this time. We will continue to work toward construction of a new Ambassador Bridge span and await the processing and consideration of our remaining claims in this action.”

The federal government had no immediate reaction to Collyer’s decision. It was unclear what, if any effect, it would have on the case, which has been in Collyer’s court now for four years.

Collyer also gave the Coast Guard approval for its decision to withhold a permit allowing a second span of the Ambassador Bridge to be built until the bridge company gets air rights over Detroit’s Riverside Park — an easement the city has refused to sign off on.

In the lawsuit, the bridge company is arguing that federal and state officials and agencies have wrongly thrown support behind the new crossing, while putting up obstacles to their own privately owned span. Saying they have an exclusive franchise signed off on by Congress and the Canadian Parliament in the 1920s, the Moroun family has said the federal and state governments can’t give approval for a rival bridge without Congress’ assent.

The federal argument has been simply that Congress turned over the authority for signing off on new bridges to the executive branch decades ago.

The company, worried that that Coast Guard would soon approve a permit for the new bridge while refusing to give it one for its twin span, argued in court last month that if that permit is issued for the rival span, it could end the Detroit River bridge race.

Matthew Moroun, the company’s vice chairman and Matty Moroun’s son, said if the NITC “can get all their approvals — and this is the final one — before we do, they’ve won.”

Collyer did not weigh in on questions of exclusive franchises, but said it was far from clear that the race was over if the Coast Guard issued its permit. There could still be questions of land purchases, financial arrangements and whether the U.S. government will pay for a new customs plaza — all of which would have to be sorted out first.

“Both the twin span and the (new bridge) are embroiled in significant legislative maneuvering and funding negotiations that must be resolved before construction of their respective bridges can begin,” she said. “(C)onstruction … is by no means imminent or inevitable. … (It) qualifies as the sort of potential but uncertain injury that precludes preliminary injunctive relief.”

Originally posted by the Detroit Free Press

Two more court room loses for Moroun brings the NITC closer to reality

DRIC bridge step closer to reality after Moroun loses court challenge

Dave Battagello

A U.S. federal judge has given the green light for the U.S. Coast Guard to grant a permit for the planned $1-billion Detroit River bridge, moving the project one step closer to construction.

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun was seeking an injunction in a Washington courtroom to stop the Coast Guard from granting the permit in order to protect profits at his own 84-year-old Windsor-Detroit crossing.

But U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said lawyers for the bridge company failed to show granting a Coast Guard permit for the planned Detroit River international Crossing (DRIC) bridge would cause “irreparable harm” to their business, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Upon close examination, the court finds that (the bridge owner’s) contentions are unduly speculative and, therefore, insufficient to justify preliminary injunctive relief,” said Collyer in her ruling.

Collyer also ruled it was okay for the Coast Guard to withhold a permit for the Ambassador Bridge’s twin span proposal until Moroun can secure air rights over the City of Detroit’s Riverside Park.

The city has so far refused to sell the park or those rights to Moroun.

A Canadian government official indicated Friday the court decision against Moroun’s challenge is another hurdle cleared in the bid to build a new bridge at North America’s busiest trade corridor.

“Today’s court ruling represents yet another step forward towards the construction of the DRIC bridge,” said Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada.

“The Government of Canada remains committed to the building of a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit as additional capacity is needed along this corridor to support the anticipated growth in border traffic. Free and open trade generates jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.”

Originally posted by The Windsor Star

The Moroun misinformation campaign continues

In Matt Moroun’s latest editorial, he claims that “…the Ambassador Bridge was built and has been maintained without ever taking taxpayer assistance.”

FACT: $230 million taxpayer dollars were used on the Gateway Project that serves the congested Ambassador Bridge and the Federal Government paid to build and continues to pay to maintain the customs plaza at the bridge.

Matt Moroun Editorial:

In the latest news about the New International Trade Crossing government bridge proposal, taxpayers have learned that the proposal requires $250 million for an inspection plaza, as well as the Michigan Transportation Department’s resources for condemning land.

Unfortunately, the Detroit News editorial “Bridge fight has gone on too long” has, not so subtly, chosen to blame these government bridge shortcomings on the private sector and the Ambassador Bridge.

Our company should not be blamed for these fatal flaws. Unlike the government bridge, the Ambassador Bridge was built and has been maintained without ever taking taxpayer assistance. Our position that the government bridge is wrong-minded has not changed. It can’t even pay for itself.

Everyone has heard Gov. Rick Snyder say that his bridge does not need taxpayer money or resources. Now that it does, that is not our fault.

Also, it is not the fault of the Legislature, which has consistently restricted expenditures of money and resources for the government bridge for many years. In fact, until now, Snyder has said that he didn’t even need the Legislature in order to build the government bridge. However, this hasn’t stopped some in the media from insinuating that if a legislator does not want to spend money and resources on the NITC that it must be because of campaign contributions rather than fiscal responsibility — or even reliance on the governor’s word.

The “flip-flop” on taxpayer dollars and risk should be the story.

Matt Moroun, vice chairman,

Ambassador Bridge

Originally posted in the  Detroit News