Tom’s Corner: New bridge


(NEWSCHANNEL 3) – To build, or not to build, that’s the question lawmakers are debating about a new bridge spanning from Detroit to Canada.

The ads are out there, asking you to support the idea.

In this installment of Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe suggests there may be another reason the new bridge is on hold.

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Those sincere and alarming TV spots asking for our support for the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge in Detroit are back on the air, and in order for us to believe them, that a new bridge is bad for business and bad for Michigan taxpayers, we have to disbelieve of governors, Snyder, Granholm, Blanchard, Engler and Milliken as well as the people at Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota, and the Chambers of Commerce in every important city in Michigan, Canada and Northern Ohio as well as the Free Press, Detroit News, Grand Rapids Press and the Toledo Blade as well as virtually every significant employer in the state.

In these turbulent times, that is quite a collection of people on a single side of an issue, but let’s go back to the beginning.

30 years ago Grosse Point billionaire Matty Moroun bought the already 50-year-old span in the name of the Detroit International Bridge Company. It remains the busiest international border crossing in North America.

Matty Moroun owns a monopoly on commercial truck traffic, and owns the nearby Ammex Detroit Duty Free Store which has a monopoly on duty free fuel sold at near retail prices.

The bridge runs from downtown Detroit to downtown Windsor. City leaders in Windsor want to move it a few miles south to rid the city of traffic congestion, air pollution and urban blight cause, a Canadian court said just a few days ago, by Matty Moroun.

The congestion on either side of the bridge is so bad the Ford, in 2010 lost nearly $14 million due to more than five million hours of delays.

So, there’s huge support for the new bridge two miles downstream. It would speed things up by linking commercial traffic directly from Canadian and American highways, and here’s the best part, the Canadians are willing to pay for it, all of it.

Speaking to the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce last month the General Consul of Canada, Roy Norton, said “I’m not trying to sell you a bridge, I’m actually trying to give you a bridge.”

The Canadians estimate the cost at about a billion dollars and say they’ll front $550,000,000 and finance the rest.

By special arrangement with Washington, that Canadian infrastructure investment would free up more than two billion dollars in available federal highway dollars in America and could create some 10,000 construction jobs.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but our legislators can’t seem to get behind it.

Oh yeah, did I mention that in 2010 the owners of the Ambassador Bridge spent more than $500,000 in campaign contributions to our elected men and women in Lansing. But surely that would not get in the way, would it?

It’ll be coming up for a vote again soon. Let’s pay close attention.

In this corner, I’m Tom Van Howe.