Taking Back the Park

Last Friday evening around 5:30 P.M., some 100 protesters gathered at Riverside Park in Detroit underneath the great blue span of the Ambassador Bridge to tear down what Matty Moroun had put up: a 150 foot fence cutting off parts of the park and a section of Jefferson Avenue. Mr. Moroun is the owner of the bridge, the only privately owned border crossing between the United States and Canada.

The billionaire has long been opposed by those claiming unethical business practices, titling him a “slum lord” and painting him as a greedy billionaire obsessed with profit over anything else. As of late, this is hard to dispute.

Protesters are saying Moroun has put up fencing on publicly owned land, illegally, and were determined to get answers Friday. Saws, bolt cutters and power tools were present as demonstrators attempted to take back what was there’s. They were met with four squad cars and threats of detainment.

Siting homeland security as the reason for the fencing, police attempted to disperse the crowd after an hour of angry voices making their arguments over megaphones. The thing is, Moroun doesn’t own the land he has sectioned off.

State politicians like Rep. Rashida Tlaib have been speaking out on the issue for some time, and perhaps with much of the fencing torn down (which Moroun employees rolled up and took away, assumed to be put back up) a new light will be shed on the criminal activities of a highly caricatured businessman who is already attempting to sue the Michigan and Canadian governments over control of a second bridge, yet to be built.


Gongwer News Service

Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Honda and Toyota all back a new trade crossing over the Detroit River, but call it the New International Trade Crossing project, not the Detroit River International Crossing, according to a press release issued by Governor Rick Snyder on Thursday.

“To compete as a world-class community, we strongly support the construction of any new crossings to improve traffic flow and reduce or eliminate congestion. We also need this crossing to be built expeditiously. For these reasons we support Michigan’s New International Trade Crossing,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company.

“Greater traffic flow and border crossing capacity gives our U.S. and Canadian manufacturing operations more flexibility to meet the needs of U.S. consumers,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America.

The release highlighted Mr. Snyder’s agreement with the federal government to use the $550 million the Canadian government has offered the state for DRIC as part of its federal match for transportation infrastructure funding



  • A world-class international bridge to secure a transportation corridor with Michigan’s largest trading partner.
  • Providing 10,000 new construction jobs to Michigan workers.
  • Generating more then $2 billion in federal matching highway funds for Michigan roads.
  • A $1.3 billion dollar investment that will not cost Michigan taxpayers a dime.


In 2004, a commission was formed to explore potential sites for a new additional border crossing in the Detroit-Windsor corridor. The 82-year old Ambassador Bridge has become the nation’s busiest bridge, but it does not have the capacity to meets the future needs of a world-class trade and transportation infrastructure between Michigan and Canada.

A joint partnership between Canada, Ontario, Michigan and the U.S. government looked at more than 20 possible locations for a new border crossing. The area where Delray currently exists (on the Michigan side) was chosen as the best possible location for a new international border crossing. The U.S. and Canadian governments have approved the environmental permits for the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) and on June 15, 2012, signed an historic agreement to build the bridge.

The Need for a New Bridge

Chrysler Corporation estimates that delays at the Detroit-Windsor crossing adds more than $600 to the average car manufactured in the Michigan-Ontario region. Today’s just-in-time manufacturing businesses lose productivity when deliveries are delayed. A recent snowstorm closing HWY 402 in Canada forced auto plants across our state to close down as well.

The Detroit-Windsor crossing is an asset that gives Michigan an edge in foreign trade. Canada is Michigan’s largest trading partner with $62 billion in trade in 2010 – 237,000 Michigan jobs depend on trade with Canada.

The Detroit-Windsor corridor also handles approximately 25 to 30 percent of all trade between the United States and Canada. More than eight million American jobs depend on that trade. The goal of the commission was to locate an ideal site for a new international border crossing that would add redundancy, security, and a direct connection between I-75 in the United States and Highway 401 in Canada while providing the added capacity needed to meet the future demands fueled by a recovering economy.

The new bridge would add redundancy as an alternate route for industrial traffic as well as provide security in the case if anything were to happen to the current border crossing. The direct connection between I-75 and Highway 401 would save Michigan shippers and manufactures millions of dollars currently lost to delays.

In 2010, truck traffic across the Ambassador Bridge was up by more than 17 percent. As Michigan’s and the national economy continues to recover, studies show the truck traffic doubling by 2035. The proposed international trade crossing project would be six new lanes bringing the total to ten from Detroit to Windsor. As a comparison the Buffalo-Niagara crossing (the third busiest crossing in North America) has 14 lanes on four bridges.

$1.3 Billion Investment in Michigan

The Michigan side of the new international bridge is estimated to cost $1.3 billion to construct a customs plaza, a toll plaza and connection to I-75 and one-half of the bridge. The bridge will be paid for by private investors through a public private partnership financing agreement. The Plaza, I-75 connection and Michigan’s share of the custom’s plaza will be paid by the Canadian Government’s $550 million investment in the project. The federal government will pay for the balance on the cost of the customs plaza. Michigan taxpayers will not pay a dime for the project. The Canadians and the private investors will be repaid by the tolls collected on bridge.

Leveraging New Federal Highway Dollars

In addition, the Federal Highway Administration has agreed to allow Michigan to use the $550 million Canadian investment to match federal highway construction funds for projects across Michigan. This will provide more than $2 billion dollars for new road construction dollars creating thousands of additional jobs.

A Private Investment in Michigan

The agreement would create a bridge authority in partnership with the Canadian government. The authority will put out bids to privately design, privately develop, privately finance, privately construct and privately operate the new international bridge. Anyone can bid on this project – including the owners of the Ambassador Bridge. The State of Michigan will not expend any tax dollars to the authority and will not be liable for any debts or obligations as the agreement states:

The Michigan Parties shall not be required to fund any International
Crossing Costs, Michigan Interchange Costs, US Federal Plaza Costs, Crossing Authority Costs or International Authority Costs.

Furthermore, should the tolls collected from the bridge fall short of the dollars needed to repay the Canadian and/or private investors in the project, the Canadian government has agreed to accept the responsibility for any short-fall.

Creating Jobs for Michigan Workers

During the construction stage of the project, Michigan workers will build the Michigan side while Canadians build their side. It is estimated that 10,000 Michigan construction workers would be hired for the project and the new bridge would help support an additional 25,000 Michigan jobs once it’s completed.