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Published: 4/6/2011

Ambassador Bridge owner: Mich. gov-backed plan for new Detroit-Canada span 'should be stopped'

BLADE NEWS SERVICES

WARREN, Mich. — A plan backed by Gov. Rick Snyder to build a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, "should be stopped," the owner of the existing bridge said in an interview published Wednesday.

Detroit-area billionaire businessman Manuel "Matty" Moroun told the Detroit Free Press that the plan to build a second bridge near the Ambassador Bridge Moroun owns would hurt jobs in Michigan, including at Moroun's bridge and trucking companies.

"I don't know what the governor's doing," Moroun said Monday at his corporate headquarters in Warren. "He's probably going to win. I can't stop him, but he should be stopped. He's doing the wrong thing."

Snyder contends that the bridge project he supports would create jobs, strengthen the state economy and help establish Michigan as a hub for global commerce.

The first-term Republican governor announced during his State of the State address in January that he backs the project that would be funded both publicly and privately. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Snyder's point person on the project, said the Moroun family's recent efforts to kill the project, including an aggressive advertising campaign, won't work.

"The fact that they're spending millions of dollars, that tells you that they're starting to feel nervous," Calley said.

Moroun has been battling government entities in the United States and Canada for several years while seeking to build his own second span across the Detroit River. Moroun's wife, Nora Moroun, who also is speaking out on the issue, said Michigan's leaders should be on her husband's side in his proposal.

"When you have a private company willing to take all the cost and all the risk in this economy and invest in Detroit, it's appalling that we even have this fight," she said.

Calley said legislation to authorize the project that Snyder backs should be introduced soon in Lansing.

Snyder said in January he secured a "unique agreement" from the Federal Highway Administration during a visit to Washington that would allow the state to count $550 million that Canada has offered for the project toward Michigan's federal match for road funds. He has said that Michigan will not take on any debt for the project.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press



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