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Morouns Dealt Legal Blow in Bridge Battle

Monday, October 16, 2017

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In a ruling last week, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, which passes from Michigan into Canada, was dealt a legal blow: a judge determined that an agreement made by the state governor with the Canadian government to construct another inernational bridge is valid, despite the Ambassador ownerr’s claims to the contrary.

In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder worked out a deal with Canada to construct a second bridge that would provide another route into the northern country, what would later become known as the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Manuel “Matty” Moroun has spent years fighting the ruling, attempting to make a case for the fact that the deal had not involved state approval.

Earlier this week, Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. declared the deal legal. The Michigan Department of Transportation is also on track to take 20 parcels of land from Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Company, in order to construct the Gordie Howe.

“Progress is continuing on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, which will create jobs and enhance commerce with our most important trading partner," Snyder said.

Legal Arguments

Moroun and Detroit International have pursued numerous actions against the project, claiming that federal approvals for the bridge were unconstitutional, and that Snyder illegally pursued an agreement with Canada for the bridge deal while cutting the state legislature out of the process. All of Moroun’s suits have been unsuccessful.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge has been in the works for more than a decade, with roots stretching back to 2004.

In a statement to The Detroit News, Mike Cox, the attorney representing Moroun, said that they had argued since the beginning that the law required the authorization of legislature for any new international bridge.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

The Gordie Howe International Bridge has been in the works for more than a decade, with roots stretching back to 2004.

“We expect that when this process is finished that this illegal attempt to build an international bridge will be laid bare,” he added. “And our judiciary will agree that MDOT and others in state government did not follow the applicable Michigan law and that any effort to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge must start anew and must first begin with approval from the Legislature.”

According to The Detroit News, the new bridge is slated to open in 2022, with construction starting next year.

Bridge Permit

While the Morouns' fight with Michigan continues to unfold, Transport Canada recently gave conditional approval for a new Ambassador Bridge, contingent on a number of factors, the most notable being the demolition of the current Ambassador.

The current Ambassador Bridge is the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in terms of trade volume; according to Transport Canada, more than $120 billion in two-way trade crossed the bridge in 2015. It is currently the only bridge between Detroit and Windsor, which are also linked by a truck ferry, a rail tunnel and a vehicular traffic tunnel.

Detroit International Bridge Co.

While the Morouns' fight with Michigan continues to unfold, Transport Canada recently gave conditional approval for a new Ambassador Bridge, contingent on a number of factors, the most notable being the demolition of the current Ambassador.

"The Ambassador Bridge will now build North America’s longest cable-stayed bridge next to the original span of the privately funded Ambassador Bridge, which was the longest suspension bridge when it opened in 1929," Detroit International’s Matthew Moroun, son of Matty Moroun, told the Detroit Free Press in a statement Wednesday.

Matty Moroun had previously declined to rule out keeping the old bridge standing for possible use during high-traffic periods.

In addition to removing the old span upon completion of the new bridge, the Ambassador operators are required under the conditional approval to “improve local infrastructure,” create new public green spaces, protect the environment and consider indigenous interests.

The new Ambassador Bridge project still needs a number of U.S. permits.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Contractors; Government

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