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Court Denies Challenge to Gordie Howe Bridge

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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Weeks after an unfavorable ruling in October, Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun has been dealt yet another legal blow: the rejection of his latest appeal to block the Gordie Howe International Bridge Project.

On Nov. 21, the rejection from the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., arrived, addressing Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Company's initial attempt to block the Gordie Howe, citing constitutional grounds.

Deal History

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

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

In 2012, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder worked out a deal with Canada to construct a second bridge that would provide another route into the northern country, a project that would later become known as the Gordie Howe International Bridge. 

In a previous ruling in October, Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. declared the deal legal. The Michigan Department of Transportation was also on track to take 20 parcels of land from Moroun’s company, in order to construct the Gordie Howe.

To date, all of Moroun’s suits have been unsuccessful.

November Ruling

Chief Judge Judith W. Rogers detailed in her opinion, which came on behalf of the three-judge panel, that Michigan’s intermediate state appeals court was not wrong in honoring the international deal.

Moroun’s lawyers had initially argued that state law prohibited Michigan from making the deal with Canada, but Rogers noted in her opinion that none of the challenges presented were persuasive. Moroun had also made the case for International Bridge Co. having exclusive rights to operate a crossing over the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, based on a 1921 agreement made between the U.S. and Canada.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Court of Appeals said that the company has not indicated that “Congress intended the Ambassador Bridge to be perpetually profitable for its owners.”

“Taking more great strides toward starting construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, this time thanks to a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia,” Snyder said.

Bridge Permit

Transport Canada had also recently given 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.

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; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (11/28/2017, 11:35 AM)

Methinks that Mr. Moroun is stretching this out as much as possible to keep his monopoly going as long as possible. Using some quick Google numbers (17,000 vehicles/day, 8,000 being trucks, $4.50/axle and $6.75/axle respectively) he's pulling in something in the order of $350,000/day in tolls alone (not to mention the gas and other related businesses)...if he gets 6 months more monopoly out of a couple million in lawyer's fees then he's getting a decent return on his investment.

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