NITC Senate Committee Hearing – Day Two: Moroun told to clean up act

In the second day of Senate Economic Development Committee hearings regarding the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), Matthew Moroun was scolded for the campaign tactics used against the proposed NITC. Senators Tupac Hunter and Virgil Smith, both from Detroit, questioned Moroun and his connections to political consultant Dick Morris and the organization Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

“I question your polling and the fake eviction notices and your communications tactics…They do not help the debate,” said Senator Hunter. “To stoop to this level is disappointing.”

Senator Smith stated his disgust with the bridge company’s failure to comply with a Wayne County Circuit Court order to remove illegally built ramps, gas pumps, and a duty-free shop. “You are your own worst enemy…if you want to proceed with the twinning of the Ambassador Bridge, you’re going to have to clean up a number of your actions in Southeast Michigan or I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”

Another Flip Flop on the Twinning Issue

When asked by Senator Goeff Hansen on whether or not the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) will build a second span, Moroun answered that once they have final permit approval “they will begin to build the bridge the next day.” This is contradictory to what Matthew Moroun told The Detroit News in May of this year, stating that building a second span next to the Ambassador Bridge “could take three or fours years or even up to a decade.” In today’s Senate hearings Moroun also said that they would build a new span, then temporarily close the old bridge for renovations, and then would open both spans. But this is contrary to their application filed with Canada in April of this year where they stated they would have the old bridge “serve as a back-up, redundant resource in case of an emergency…” If that is true, then there is no twinning span – it’s just a replacement bridge that doesn’t meet the needs of commercial traffic.

Private Investors Ready to invest in NITC Bridge

Others who appeared in front of the Senate Committee included Samara Barend, Vice President of development for New York based AECOM (Fortune 500), which specializes in public-private partnerships worldwide believes the NITC is a viable public-private partnership project. “The public can have its cake and eat it too,” said Barend. “The state can dictate the terms without putting any money up front. They can get a beautiful bridge that is up to standards and that they can own.”

Working Through the Summer on the Issue

It appears that the Governor and Majority Leader have decided to work through the summer on the NITC issue and other important items on their agenda rather than try to force issues before the summer recess. The Coalition Supporting the New International Trade Crossing thanks Governor Snyder and Senator Richardville for their support and Senator Kowall for the holding hearings on the bills. In just two hearings we were able to establish the need for the NITC, that it would not cost Michigan taxpayers a dime and that the world’s private investment partners are ready to invest, build, maintain and operate the new public-private partnership bridge from Detroit to Windsor.

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