Late last week, the U.S. State Department issued a permit authorizing construction of a new and badly needed bridge over the Detroit River. That is a huge victory, but the struggle isn’t over.
Last year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder waited in vain for state lawmakers to vote on the bridge. He finally found a way to bypass the Legislature and conclude a legal agreement with the Canadian government to advance the project.
That angered Manuel Moroun, the 85-year-old billionaire who owns the 84-year-old Ambassador Bridge. His bridge is now the only way heavy freight can move across the Detroit River, and Mr. Moroun wants to preserve his monopoly at all costs.
Accordingly, he spent more than $40 million in an attempt to get Michigan voters to pass a constitutional amendment last November that would have prevented a new bridge. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.
But Mr. Moroun is nothing if not tenacious. In recent weeks, he has filed a federal lawsuit against just about everyone he can think of, including the U.S. secretaries of state, transportation and homeland security. He claims he has “a perpetual and exclusive right” to control the nation’s most economically important border crossing.
An obscure lawmaker and Detroit mayoral wannabe, Fred Durhal, is suing in a state court to block the new bridge. Mr. Moroun is hoping for an injunction to prevent the scheduled start of construction next year.
Courts are legally bound to consider Mr. Moroun’s case, as flimsy and transparent as it may be. But judges should do nothing to slow progress on a project that will create 10,000 construction jobs and promote commerce with Canada, Michigan’s largest trading partner.
The economy of the entire region, including northwest Ohio, needs the new bridge. The project will leave the Ambassador Bridge a diminished but still profitable income stream for Mr. Moroun.