No doubt about it, Manuel Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Canada, has had a terrible year. And there’s also no doubt that he has richly deserved all the trouble he got.
In January, a judge threw him in jail for two days after his company continued to violate court orders to build a road approach project in the way he agreed, after signing a contract with the state. The court then had the state do the project correctly, and made Mr. Moroun pay for it.
Next, the Moroun family spent an estimated $40 million of its private fortune to persuade Michigan voters to pass a state constitutional amendment that would have blocked a much-needed new bridge from being built. The voters said no to his amendment by a landslide.
So was Mr. Moroun gracious the day after the election? Not hardly. The 85-year-old billionaire dispatched a spokesman to make the ridiculous allegation that the proposed New International Trade Crossing bridge was about to be built on “unstable salt mine foundations,” and to hint at new lawsuits. Indeed, Mr. Moroun probably will file some nuisance suit; the head of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce sighed that the billionaire Morouns “use the court system like I use the bathroom.”
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have signed an agreement for a new bridge two miles south of the old one — a bridge that will cost Michigan nothing, gain the state $2.2 billion in federal highway matching money, and smooth traffic from the two nations’ freeways. Construction should start as soon as the permits are in place.
The sooner a second, more modern bridge is built, the sooner the Michigan and Ohio economies will be fully competitive for the 21st century. Like the bridge itself, that’s long overdue.
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