Battling a Giant

Gregg vs. Goliath

For years, a small truck ferry owner has been hauling hazardous materials across the Detroit River and battling Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. But if he wins, he will probably put himself out of business.

BY JACK LESSENBERRY // PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACOB LEWKOW 

Published: January 31, 2017 

FERRY OWNER GREGG WARD TAKES AN INTERNATIONAL VIEW OF THE DETROIT-WINDSOR BORDER.

Today, if the ice isn’t too thick, a few trucks that carry hazardous materials or are just too big for the Ambassador Bridge will squeeze themselves onto a 45-year-old ferry, the Lac St. Jean, at a hard-to-find dock a couple miles south of downtown.

When the trucks are aboard, Capt. David Seymour will fire up the engines of the Stormont, a battered, old Canadian tugboat, and chug off across the Detroit River, collect a few more vehicles, chat with the customs folks, and then chug on back.

The Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry might, on a good day, haul 50 trucks across the water. That compares to, oh, 8-10,000 or so trucks that roll across the Ambassador Bridge every day.

There’s very little comparison — or love lost — between the men behind each operation. 

The Ambassador Bridge is owned by Matty Moroun, 89, one of the richest people in Michigan.

The bridge itself was completed in 1929, just as the greatest depression in American history was settling in.

Moroun managed to outmaneuver legendary investor Warren Buffett and gain complete control of the bridge in 1979.

He also owns a vast trucking empire, CenTra, plus the hulking ruin of the Michigan Central Station, and vast swatches of what are often called slum properties around both his bridge and what will be the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, the creation of which Moroun has fought ferociously for years.

Forbes magazine has rated Moroun’s net worth at around $1.6 billion. 

The Detroit Windsor-Truck Ferry was started on April 22, 1990, — Earth Day — by Gregg Ward and his father, John.

The date was appropriate. The Ambassador Bridge isn’t certified as safe for hazardous materials. These days, the elder Ward has been ailing, and his son has been running the business.

Gregg Ward is outwardly cheerful and warm, and looks a decade younger than his 55 years. But his life is anything but easy. Instead of a mansion in Grosse Pointe Shores, he has a nice but modest home in Dearborn. A divorced father of two, he doesn’t often see his daughter Emily, who is in college in Europe. (His former wife moved back to her native Iceland.) His life revolves around caring for his 20-year-old autistic son, Michael, to whom he is totally dedicated.

It would be safe to say that those who compile the Forbes list of the richest Americans have never heard of Gregg Ward.

“You know, we started this thinking it would be a part-time job, and it became our lives,” he tells me over lunch at Johnny Noodle King in southwest Detroit, not far from his ferry.

For him, in many ways, this business is ideal, since it allows him the flexibility to take care of his son. But there’s a cloud on the horizon; once the Gordie Howe bridge is open to traffic, Ward expects it will put him out of business.

“The new bridge should be safe for hazardous materials,” he says, as well as being large enough to carry the huge windmill pylons that now use his ferry service.

That means the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry will no longer be able to compete. 

You might think that would make Ward as determined as Moroun to stop the new bridge.

But you’d be totally wrong.

For more than a decade, long before Rick Snyder ever thought of running for governor, Ward has fought for a new bridge.

He does that, to be sure, because he doesn’t like how Moroun does business or treats people.

His stories about the billionaire could fill a book, and would undoubtedly invite lawsuits from Moroun, whose love of litigation is legendary. 

“What some might get out of a night with Marilyn Monroe, Matty gets out of suing people,” former Gov. James Blanchard, who had worked both for and against Moroun as a lobbyist, once told me.

But most of all, Ward thinks a new bridge is essential for this region’s survival. “If it didn’t happen and something happened to put the old bridge out of commission, this region would be so euchered …” he says.

He shakes his head. “I don’t know why the business leaders, the automotive companies especially, aren’t calling more loudly for the bridge to be built.”

What’s not in dispute is this: Around half a billion dollars in goods, mainly heavy auto components, trundle across the Ambassador every day. Unfortunately the bridge is not only wearing out, showering concrete onto a Windsor neighborhood last year, but it’s also in the wrong place for traffic patterns. Trucks crossing into Canada have a dozen lights to get through before they get to Highway 401.

That’s starkly inefficient, which is why at peak times, you can see traffic backed up onto I-75. That won’t happen with the Gordie Howe; the Canadians have built carefully landscaped access roads to whisk traffic on to their freeway system.

But progess lags on the Michigan side, around Delray, the area where the bridge would be anchored. 

Ward is worried. “Delay, delay, delay,” he says.

He’s also suspicious that Mayor Mike Duggan is dragging his heels on transferring jurisdiction over roadways and easements, so that work on things like electrical connections can start.

“I worry that he is doing a deal with Moroun,” Ward says. 

The Ambassador Bridge owner has long argued that he should be allowed to build a new bridge at his own expense, next to his old one.

But that would make no sense from either an environmental or traffic point of view. 

A spokesman for the mayor denied any deal: “We continue to support the Gordie Howe bridge, and we are committed to ensuring that the needs of those who live in the community are addressed,” says Jed Howbert, executive director of the mayor’s Jobs & Economy Team (JET).

But Ward isn’t too sure.

Moroun’s idea of “twinning” his current bridge seems to be an obsession, but probably also a fantasy. Higher-up Canadian officials have told me they will never allow that.

Ottawa is so committed to the Gordie Howe bridge, Canada is even going to pick up Michigan’s half-billion dollar share of the tab, money Canada will supposedly be repaid someday out of the tolls.

But Moroun’s fantasy is a rich one. 

“Every year of delay is that much more in profits for the Morouns,” Ward says, and that much more lost to businesses on both sides of the border. 

Ward, who grew up in Indiana and moved to Michigan at 17, has always seen things in terms of an international focus. After earning a BA in international studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, he went to the Université Laval in Quebec to be certified as fluent in French, before earning an MBA in finance from Michigan State University.

He’s been a business consultant and adviser for a dozen countries, including the Baltic States and Romania, but sees the U.S.-Canada relationship as key to our economic future.

Ward does think the Gordie Howe bridge will eventually happen; his guess is that it might be ready for traffic by 2022.

What he will do then is a good question. But he is almost universally regarded as an honest and caring person.

And nobody knows bridge issues like he does. 

“Gregg has an exhaustive knowledge of the subject,” longtime investigative reporter Joel Thurtell has noted. “Those of us who have written about the proposed new bridge owe Gregg Ward a huge debt for maintaining what amounts to a digital news service that keeps us up to date.”

Ward’s also politically and economically savvy. But when I ask whether he might ever consider a career in politics, he laughs. 

“How can you compromise on the most basic things? I can’t see myself going up to the worst sons of bitches and shake hands and acting like everything is fine,” he says. 

I decided I didn’t need to ask who he meant. 

http://www.hourdetroit.com/Hour-Detroit/February-2017/Gregg-vs-Goliath/

Gordie Howe is Good for the Great Lakes Region

Letter to President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau

OTTAWA, Jan. 27, 2017 /CNW/ –

His Excellency the Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C.

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.

Prime Minister of Canada

Langevin Block

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A2

Dear Mr. President and Prime Minister:

The United States of America and Canada share a very special relationship that has been forged through commerce, combat, mutual aid in times of crisis, friends and family, and our mutual commitment to conserving the environment for future generations. As inscribed on the Peace Arch between Blaine, Washington and Douglas, British Columbia, we are truly children of a common mother and brethren dwelling together in unity.

As you begin to work together to advance the United States (U.S.) – Canada relationship under your leadership, the Council of the Great Lakes Region would like to offer the following observations.  We hope they are useful as you strengthen this unique bilateral relationship during your time in office.

The U.S. and Canada make things together. We innovate and learn together. Together our farmers feed our families and communities. It is a dynamic partnership that has led to one of the most important and successful economic relationships in the world. In fact, Canada is the top export destination for 35 states. The U.S. also accounts for 51 per cent of global investment into Canada.

Conversely, Canada is the biggest supplier of energy to the U.S., the second largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products to the U.S., and is a trusted and integrated supplier of inputs into U.S. manufacturing – automotive, aerospace, life sciences, information and communications technologies. Overall, Canada sells more to the U.S. in one year than to the rest of the world combined over three years. As a result, nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on Canada.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region is the heart and soul of this economic relationship. Home to 107 million Americans and Canadians, this binational region straddles the international border and encompasses eight U.S. states – Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and two Canadian provinces – Ontario and Quebec.

Border crossings in the region comprise 74 per cent of the total value of imports and exports moving across all ports of entry between the two countries by rail, truck and pipeline. With a GDP of USD $5.8 trillion, if taken as a separate economic unit, the region would be the third largest economy in the world after the U.S. and China, supporting some 50 million jobs, or roughly one-third of the combined American and Canadian workforce.

Moreover, the region boasts one-fifth of U.S. and one-half of Canadian manufacturing. In 2011, the region accounted for nearly 24.1 per cent and 72.1 per cent of R&D funding in the U.S. and Canada and generated 26.2 per cent and 68 per cent of patents in the U.S. and Canada respectively in 2012. Furthermore, the region is home to 20 of the world’s top 100 universities.

As you consider the next steps in the bilateral relationship, our experience in the region shows that there is more we can do to modernize, align and in some cases eliminate duplicate regulations across sectors at the federal–state/provincial level that would create growth in the region and improve the ease of doing business by reducing red tape. Smart regulations do not equal less stringent regulations. To this end, the Council encourages you to continue and accelerate the work of the Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET) are multi-agency law enforcement teams that target cross-border criminal activity on land and in the marine environment through initiatives like Shiprider, a program that sees U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian law enforcement personnel jointly patrol shared waterways, including in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region. They have shown how we can effectively monitor and protect the longest border in the world. Therefore, IBETs should be expanded and strengthened.

Similarly, there is more that we can do to secure the border while pre-clearing and expediting the movement of legitimate people and goods, as well as sharing customs and border resources in joint facilities, as we try to institutionalize the “checked once, approved twice” approach to trade and mobility between our two countries.

The enactment of the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act by Congress in December 2016, coupled with a companion bill that is awaiting approval in Canada, provides the legal framework for establishing a modern, seamless border in an increasingly borderless global economy. Thickening the border as a result of duplicate inspection and enforcement or implementing tax measures at the border, would add billions of dollars in extra operating costs for business and government in the region and could have a cooling affect on bilateral imports and exports.

Over the last decade world trade in goods has increased dramatically from less than $8 trillion in 2003 to more than $18.5 trillion in 2013. Over the same period, trade in services has more than doubled, from $2 trillion to $4.7 trillion. This growth has been precipitated in many cases by specialized economic zones (SEZs), also known as Free Trade or export processing zones (EPZs), which now number in the thousands around the globe and can exist across international borders. Establishing a public-private Great Lakes FTZ between our two countries in the region would be a game changer for business and attracting investment, as it would create a favourable tax and tariff treatment regime across the entire region as well as provide greater flexibility in how companies warehouse and transport goods.

In the eight Great Lakes states, there are over 7.0 million SMEs, or 26% of small businesses in the U.S. However, only 123,249 of these firms exported goods in 2014, supporting about 1.7 million American jobs. The value of SME exports to Canada in 2015, the top export destination for most small firms in the region, was USD$110.8 billion. In the same vein, almost 60% of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada, many of them manufacturers, are based in Ontario and Quebec, supporting 6.4 million Canadian jobs. The destination for their exports is the U.S., which accounted for 88.1% of total exports of small businesses and 96.2% of exports of medium-sized businesses. However, only 21.3% of Ontario’s and 21.5% of Quebec’s SMEs exported in 2014.

Capacity constraints limit SMEs in tackling border regulations, understanding market opportunities, identifying appropriate partners and clients, and accessing capital or incentives. As a result, we must do more to scale up SMEs and get them export ready in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region through better market intelligence, as well as more targeted advisory and financial supports.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region consists of an expansive network of continental highways, bridges, airports and rail lines, 15 large international marine ports and 50 regional marine ports, and the bi-national Saint Lawrence Seaway and its 19 locks that together connect the region to the continent and industry to global markets in Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

However, this critical infrastructure is aging and in desperate need of renewal (e.g. the Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan). As well, new transportation assets need to be built to accommodate regional economic growth, build greater connectivity within the region and to world markets, and improve supply chain resiliency (e.g. Gordie Howe International Bridge and associated customs plazas).

Modernizing the region’s infrastructure presents a tremendous opportunity to put American and Canadian workers, capital and building products like steel to work for the benefit of both countries. Therefore, please work together to prioritize and invest in the renewal and construction of trade enabling infrastructure in the region using public-private partnerships, a viable means of addressing our shared infrastructure deficit at a time of constrained public budgets.

The binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is a strategic energy market in North America and transit corridor with assets in exploration, production, and distribution of fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy. In fact, the earliest record of energy trade between Canada and the U.S. dates to the construction of a cross-border electricity interconnection near Niagara Fall in 1901.

As both your governments consider ways to reduce toxic air emissions and shift to cleaning burning energy to fuel our homes and industries, there are opportunities to share more clean energy across the border, but we first need to establish an integrated electricity market and system for managing trade and reliability. Imagine the environmental impact and capital cost savings that could be realized for states in the Northeast-Midwest of the U.S. if Canada was able to export more hydropower or nuclear energy to these jurisdictions.

Over the last decade, we have witnessed the development of unique industry clusters within the region’s metropolitan areas including Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Toronto and Montreal, from life sciences and aerospace to robotics, food and water. A number of distinct cross-border, trade corridors also exist, such as Detroit-Windsor, Buffalo-Niagara, and Port Huron-Sarnia. There are many advantages to doing business within these clusters and corridors together in terms of economic development, science and innovation.

Countries that invest in incubating and accelerating discovery and supporting scientific breakthroughs will lead a knowledge economy that is being further defined by big data, analytics and cognitive computing. Our universities, industries, entrepreneurs, and scientists in the region’s corridors can be at the forefront of defining solutions to the world’s biggest social, economic and environmental problems. I encourage you to help unleash the full potential of these cross-border collaborations by removing barriers to shared science and innovation that are often engrained in our national granting councils and government programs.

Finally, the watershed of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, a defining feature of much of this economic region, is comprised of a number of vital freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems to both countries and the world. The Great Lakes themselves hold about 18% of the world’s and 84% of North America’s surface freshwater, supplying clean drinking water to over 40 million Americans and Canadians. In addition, estimates suggest that more than 3,500 species of plants and animals inhabit the Great Lakes basin, making it a unique and complicated ecosystem.

The U.S. and Canada share a long tradition of working together to protect and conserve ecosystems straddling the border through the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and the International Joint Commission and other mechanisms like the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. It is worth noting that protecting our natural capital, such as the restoration of the Great Lakes, is one issue that continues to receive widespread bipartisan support in Congress and the House of Commons. Moreover, restoring contaminated sites and renewing brownfield developments also makes good economic sense, as some projects have shown a return of $15 in net economic benefit for every dollar invested by taxpayers.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a non-profit, non-partisan binational organization that was established in 2013 to deepen the U.S. – Canada relationship in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region, and create a stronger, more dynamic culture of collaboration between government, business, academia and non-profit leaders in harnessing the region’s economic strengths while enhancing the well-being of the region’s citizens and protecting the environment for future generations.

We achieve this mandate by conducting insightful, evidence-based public policy research, convening diverse perspectives through events like the Great Lakes Economic Forum, and educating leaders about the importance of the region to the U.S. and Canada.

To this end, the Council stands ready to assist you in setting up the bilateral relationship for success over the weeks and months ahead and I would like to invite you to attend the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Detroit-Windsor from April 24-26, 2017. The Forum presents an opportunity for you to meet and solidify your priorities for expanding the U.S. – Canada partnership.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss the Forum and the binational the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region with you in the near future.

Sincerely,

Mark P. Fisher

c.c.

Mr. Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff, President of the United States

Ms. Katie Telford, Chief of Staff, Prime Minister of Canada

Power to the Gordie Howe

Energy project puts Gordie Howe between the pipes

Posted: Jan 27, 2017 1:08 PM | Last Updated: Jan 27, 2017 1:08 PM

WINDSOR–Ontario’s energy infrastructure has been enhanced thanks to the installation of 4.3 kilometres of new transmission and distribution natural gas pipeline installed as part of preparatory works at the Canadian Port of Entry (POE) for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

CAUTILLO ON THE HOWE BRIDGE: “Not just a transportation undertaking.”

Two high-pressure natural gas pipelines located within the footprint of the Canadian POE needed to be relocated to allow for the construction of the project.

The pipelines deliver natural gas to the Brighton Beach Power and West Windsor Power generating stations, which use the natural gas to generate electricity for the provincial energy grid.

WDBA worked closely with Union Gas Limited, the power generating facilities and the Ontario provincial Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to coordinate the changeover at the power plants to ensure there was no interruption to the energy grid.   

The $8.4-million project provides increased pipeline capacity to meet current and future energy needs. The project was completed by Union Gas Limited and paid for by WDBA.

With the completion of the natural gas pipeline relocation, WDBA has started the relocation of an extensive network of hydro-electric lines. Many of these transmission and distribution lines are currently located overhead and will need to be moved underground to accommodate further construction at the Canadian POE.  

Commented Michael Cautillo, WDBA President and Chief Executive Officer: “The Gordie Howe International Bridge project is not just a transportation undertaking. Preparing the Canadian and US sites for the bridge construction has resulted in enhancements to local infrastructure such as the new gas pipeline, the Broadway Drain and the new perimeter access road. WDBA is committed to ensuring that the project provides residents, businesses and communities on both sides of the border with economic and community development opportunities.”

Quick Facts

  • A total of 4.3 kilometres of new pipeline has been installed including 1.7 km of 50 cm diameter transmission pipe, 1.6 km of 30 cm diameter distribution pipe and one kilometre of 10 cm distribution pipe.
  •  The amount of gas moving through these pipes each day is equal to that used by more than a half million homes.
  • WDBA anticipates investing over $150 million to prepare the Canadian POE for the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Click here to see a video of the gas pipeline installation.

http://www.todaystrucking.com/energy-project-puts-gordie-howe-between-the-pipes

Trump could light a fire to move the Gordie Howe Bridge project forward

A bridge not far enough? Repairing roads and bridges comes with pros and cons

By Kathy Hoekstra – Watchdog.org – – Monday, January 9, 2017

A few months ago, a Detroit Free Press headline asked, “Will the Gordie Howe bridgeever get built?”

It’s a fair question for the $2 billion, publicly funded project launched more than a decade ago to relieve growing congestion on the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Planners say construction could begin as soon as mid-2018.

If that’s not soon enough, how about this year? Or this spring?

A transition team adviser for President-electDonald Trump tells Watchdog.org that all it would take is “just a phone call from Trump.”

Norman F. Anderson is president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure and an adviser to the Trump “infrastructure task force.” That group is charged with prioritizing and coordinating the president-elect’s ambitious $1 trillion infrastructure program — that is, $137 billion in tax incentives used to lure the remainder from private investment.

Mr. Anderson said the task force already has identified 68 projects across the country that could begin this year — although he did avoid the term “shovel-ready” — for a total investment of $262 billion and the potential for 700,000 jobs.

The bridge would bear the name of the Red Wings immortal near the top of the list. Other examples provided to Watchdog.org are the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project, Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail, the Southwest Pass dredging project south of New Orleans, the Yakima River basin water pumping station and Veterans Affairs hospital construction.

Whom would Mr. Trump call to push the Gordie Howe International Bridge to the starting line?

Many who have followed the bridge saga would likely agree on billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun. He and his family own the 87-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which charges $5 for cars in the U.S. to cross. He has raised some of the biggest roadblocks to a publicly funded bridge that would compete with his family’s $60-million-per-year enterprise.

The latest gambit is a lawsuit claiming Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, is doing an illegal end run around the Legislature to get the bridge built.

Mr. Anderson demurred on the phone call speculation, saying the 2017 projects compiled by the task force all have the same unmistakable impediment to progress.

“All are projects that would be ready to go, simply lack the final approval, permit or push,” he said. “The point is that there are projects, many of them across all sectors, tied up in the soon-to-be former administration’s lack of leadership, willingness to take risks, and indecisiveness. And that’s not a political point. It’s just a fact.”

Mr. Anderson also chided the Obama administration for not having the right infrastructure professionals at the table, which led to misplaced spending.

“The failure of the Obama people to identify good projects and invest in those projects doesn’t logically mean there aren’t good projects; it just means that they sucked at it — radically underestimating the complexity, setting mediocre people to the task of execution and not following through,” Mr. Anderson said.

Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the free-market-oriented Mercatus Center, is equally critical of President Obama’s infrastructure efforts, especially his signature American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the $800 billion stimulus package that kicked off his administration.

A 2011 Mercatus paper that Ms. de Rugy co-wrote, “Would More Infrastructure Spending Stimulate the Economy?” challenged the notion that a quick infusion of government money for infrastructure projects instantly creates shovel-ready jobs and jump-starts economic growth.

“President Obama had roughly $47 billion in direct infrastructure spending, and the idea was to invest it into ‘shovel-ready’ projects. And it would take the place of the private sector during the recession,” she explained to Watchdog.org. “And once the economy picked up, the private sector would then come back.”

The federal government’s final report in 2014 shows that $30 billion of that money went to transportation infrastructure, while the bulk of the rest went toward shoring up state and local governments and sudden paperwork-laden grant programs.

“President Obama himself had to acknowledge that there are just not that many ‘shovel-ready’ projects,” Ms. de Rugy said.

Ms. de Rugy said that even though Mr. Trumpaims to encourage more private investment through tax incentives, the plan likely will go down the same unsuccessful path. It’s not the mix of government and private spending, she said. It’s which projects are chosen and why, often a choice based on politics and popularity rather than merit.

A project as high-profile as the Gordie Howe Bridge is a no-brainer for investors, who can expect ribbon-cuttings, outsized press coverage and perhaps a cut of revenue. After all, the Ambassador Bridge pulls in $60 million per year.

But how eager are investors to fix crumbling highways in Detroit that get motorists to the bridge?

“One of the things we may actually need is maintenance. But I don’t think that’s what [Mr. Trump is] going to have in mind — to just do maintenance. It’s not that lucrative for the private sector,” she said. “So I think they’re going to find that the administration’s grand idea is going to be a whole lot of misallocation of capital or that there’s no amount of tax credit that can actually attract the private sector to do some of the stuff that would be useful to do.”

Another pitfall the incoming administration needs to avoid, Ms. de Rugy said, is considering government infrastructure spending a “jobs” program. It is a popular notion, especially among Democrats looking to recapture the votes of American workers who have defected to Mr. Trump.

“If we need to build infrastructure, try to get the highest quality for the lowest price and try to ignore the ‘economic impact’ or the ‘jobs impact,’” she said. “That’s not your reason to do it. It’s because you need it.”

Mr. Anderson blames infrastructure sluggishness on a market shackled by regulations, the “incompetent, slow and sleazy execution of studies” that cause endless delays, and leadership unwilling to challenge the regulatory status quo or revitalize the public sector.

Ms. de Rugy and Mr. Anderson agree, however, that time is of the essence.

“The infrastructure is a very, very bad tool to try to stimulate the economy in the short term,” Ms. de Rugy said. “It has to happen fast. And that’s actually really just hard to put in place.”

The ever-optimistic Trump team thinks not.

Here is a Shocker!

Ambassador Bridge owners sue Snyder, state over new bridge

By TRACY SAMILTON • 29 MINUTES AGO

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit are suing Governor Snyder and the Michigan Department of Transportation over the proposed new Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Former Attorney General Mike Cox is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit claims only the state legislature is authorized to approve a new international bridge, and since the legislature didn’t do so, the agreement between the Snyder administration and Canada (which is paying the entire cost) is illegal.

A spokeswoman for the governor says, “We disagree, and we are proceeding as planned.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a long string of efforts by the Moroun family to stop the new bridge, including a failed statewide ballot proposal in 2012 that voters rejected by a wide margin.

The new bridge is expected to compete with the aging Ambassador Bridge and siphon a significant portion of its customs revenue.  The lawsuit says the Ambassador Bridge will be forced to close as a result.

The Moroun enterprise has attempted to forestall the new bridge by pledging to build a new span, next to the existing Ambassador Bridge span.  The pledge received support from Republican leaders in the Michigan legislature, but not from Governor Snyder and MDOT, who said it was a terrorism risk to have two spans next to each other.

But the Morouns’ plan is also vehemently opposed by most people who live in Windsor, because it would dump even more traffic onto already congested roads in the city. The Morouns are also despised by some residents because they purchased properties in some neighborhoods near the site of the proposed second span and allowed them to fall into disrepair.

The bridge couldn’t be built without permits from the city, from the province of Ontario, and from Canada, and that appears highly unlikely.

http://michiganradio.org/post/ambassador-bridge-owners-sue-snyder-state-over-new-bridge

Check out the Video story of the New Bridge and the Delray community

The Bridge Comes to Delray

Detroit’s downtrodden Delray neighborhood has been waiting for the new bridge to Canada for well over a decade. The bridge means hundreds of families will be relocated.

Plans for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) started in earnest in 2004, a way to speed traffic to and from Canada, especially trucks, providing another way across the border than the Ambassador Bridge, built in the 1920s.

Artist conception courtesy Michigan Department of Transportation

Artist conception of the DRIC courtesy Michigan Department of Transportation

Artist conception of the DRIC courtesy Michigan Department of TransportationDelray seemed to be the best choice for the bridge to land. Many people have already left and a lot of vacant property had already been acquired by the city. Trouble was, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Manuel “Matty” Maroun, kept fighting the DRIC with legal challenges, even funding and losing a statewide ballot proposal to stop the DRIC.

Meanwhile, both Governors Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, and Rick Snyder, a Republican, led the charge for the new bridge despite opposition from his own party. There was talk the bridge might be open in 2016. That possibility has long passed. The residents of Delray suffered, not knowing when or if or when they’d have to leave and if they’d be properly compensated. Then there are the residents who’ll still be there to see all the construction and truck traffic coming their way.Last year, 2015, brought signs the project was moving ahead. The DRIC was rechristened the Gordie Howe International Crossing. More community meetings were held but the buyout offers for the hundreds of residents came slowly.

Now its December 2016, with clear signs the bridge is really coming. The Michigan Department of Transportation is moving fast, buying more homes. More people are relocating. About half the affected residents have struck deals to sell so far but it’s estimated about half of them are leaving Detroit. They can’t afford the city anymore as home prices keep rising.

MDOT expects to have all its property buyout offers for residents and businesses by the end of the year. It’s expected the state will have to take some properties by eminent domain. Barring any more delays, this bridge may open in five years, maybe sometime in 2022.

Detroit Public Television, through the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, looks into the lives of some Delray residents with the bridge coming in.

Bridge Authority Has a New Chairman

http://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/duncan-named-permanent-chairman-of-bridge-authority-board