Canada’s bridge to nowhere

Canada’s bridge to nowhere
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Canada, as we all know, does the vast majority of its trade with the United States. Less well-known, however, is the fact that a full third of this vast majority unfolds over a single slab of concrete — the Ambassador Bridge that connects Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan. Crammed in enormous trucks, every day more than 500 million dollars of goods cross back and forth along the Ambassador from one country to the other, making it the most valuable link in the world’s most valuable economic alliance.

With two sets of national interests so utterly dependent on the bridge, it’s more than a little unusual that the thing is not actually owned or operated by either nation’s government. Commissioned by wealthy Michigan industrialist Joseph Bower in 1929, the project was entirely self-planned, self-built, and self-financed, and to this day remains a 100% privately owned enterprise that funds its maintenance through driver tolls, rather than government largess.

It’s never been an entirely uncontroversial state of affairs, as you might expect. In a storyline straight out of Ayn Rand, nearly eight decades worth of politicians — on both sides of the border — have regarded the bridge with varying degrees of scepticism and jealousy since practically day one. The mayor of Detroit opposed its initial construction back in the ’20s — until his wishes were vetoed by a popular referendum organized by Bower himself. In the 1970s, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau tried to nationalize it, but was defeated in the courts. And now Prime Minister Harper, that great conservative friend of the free market, has come up with what may very well be the sneakiest scheme at subversion yet: simply build another bridge.

Harper’s aggressive opposition to the Ambassador status quo has mainly centered around post-9/11 security concerns — which are debatable — and lessening the hardships posed by increasing traffic — which are considerably less so. As this cute little chart from the National Post dramatically highlights, Ontario-Michigan border trade has actually declined quite notably since the 2008 recession (and bridge traffic along with it), in contrast to wildly optimistic estimates of the boomin’ early 2000s. This is not necessarily the result of a general decline in US-Canadian trade (though that has suffered during the recession) as much as a byproduct of our continent’s drifting center of financial power. As Canada’s exports become more and more bound up in the extraction and export of natural resources, it’s the highways and pipelines of Alberta that are becoming the true carriers of North American wealth, not some overpass linking the decaying motor cities of Detroit and Windsor — places whose very names are now synonymous with economic rot.

But Harper says the thing must still be built anyway, even agreeing to pay the entire $550 million cost of construction upfront and introducing new sweeping legislation in Parliament last week that will grant the project complete immunity from any and all environmental regulation that could possibly hold it up any further. The Michiganers, for their part, have been markedly more ambivalent. Calling the new bridge a big pointless waste, the Republican-controlled state legislature has repeatedly refused to co-fund, and though their governor is nominally in favor, a referendum against construction will be on the November 4 ballot. An angry and aggressive advertising blitz has been launched by the Ambassador’s current owners, who, as you might expect, are starting to develop a bit of a persecution complex.

It will be interesting to see who ultimately emerges victorious. Sensing a classic war between big government and big biz, several Tea Party bigwigs, including the Koch brothers and Grover Norquist have thrown their support behind the anti-new bridge forces, while the big American industrial unions — who are ironically poised to benefit the most from this bit of Canada-funded stimulus work — are predictably in favor. The story has not received a great deal of attention in Canada at either the press or partisan level, presumably because it corrupts the standard ideological narrative in such weird ways (Harper the government-knows-best crusader?) and feels so, well, municipal, despite the magnitude of the economic interests at stake.

It’s sometimes said that unaccomplished politicians are prone to suffer from an “edifice complex,” that is, a desire to create legacies in concrete and steel once it’s become obvious that they have left none in policy. And perhaps there’s some truth to that in the case of the unremarkable Governor Synder, but as far as our own prime minister goes, I’m more inclined to see this whole bridge boondoggle as but the latest excess of Harper’s stringent and unevolving national security obsession. The idea that private sector management of our busiest trading post puts Canada at increased risk for terrorist disruption may be implausible, but it’s still possible enough to fret about. And Harper, whose Cheneyesque conservatism on these sorts of matters represents the one strain of his ideology that has not softened with the times, seems happily predisposed to err on the side of the one percent doctrine.

The right-wing challenge of the last decade was to justify a massive expansion of security spending and federal power at the expense of balanced budgets and individual rights. The challenge of this one is articulating the economic advantages that can be born from a greater outsourcing of public services into private hands.

As a man whose political career spanned both eras, it’s a pity Harper never quite learned how to successfully bridge the two.


  1. Craverguy

    The Governor of Michigan is a Republican, not a Democrat.

  2. michigander

    whop just about to say that…
    and just to explain a point but the referendum (proposal 12-6) is a strange kind of unlogic
    a yes vote an the ballot means a constitutional amendment in which that the people of Michigan will face a referendum to approve any future construction
    a NO vote will send this affair back to square one, -so not precisely "against"-
    as an interesting point of fact this i not the first constitutional amendment Moruon has bankrolled
    and not the only one this election either

  3. @undefined

    Matty Moroun has been throwing a ridiculous amount of money at his campaign to try and stop this new bridge. First it was throwing money at the re-election campaigns of key state legislators, then at laughable ads to try and turn public opinion against the bridge, and now a proposal to be put to the voters in 13 days which has featured the same laughable ads and, recently, the cutting of shady deals with union leaders in exchange for support for a collective bargaining proposal.

    Despite what you may think of the new bridge itself, Moroun has come off like a bitter, vindictive old man clinging desperately to his monopoly on truck traffic across the Detroit River.

    Still, all that has managed to partially sway public opinion, which was strongly for the bridge just months ago, in his favor. If such slimy, underhanded tactics actually work and Proposal 6 passes, I'll be deeply embarrassed for my state.

  4. Taylor

    It's also pretty hard to come off well when you've inherited your wealth through three generations, with the only reason you're rich because your grandpa had capital during the Depression.

  5. Tim

    Not nearly as much money as the Canadian government is throwing away on the NITC.

    The NITC is not about economics, although it pretends to be, it is about government ownership of the bricks and mortar of a border crossing – it is about policy, not economics.

  6. GolfballDM

    I wouldn't say govt. ownership of a border crossing is necessarily a bad thing.

  7. Tim

    That is a totally different debate than the current framing, which pretends to be a economic business case. Cheers!

  8. MJ Anderson

    One key point that people often overlook is that, as it exists, the bridge kind of… well, it kind of sucks.

    It connects Detroit to Windsor–but hardly anyone WANTS to go from Detroit to Windsor. (On the Windsor side in particular, you have to drive a good few kilometres before you can pick up an expressway.)

    This connection is meant to be a link in a much larger chain, not a puddle-hop between two cities. And as it exists, it doesn't do a great job of that.

    That's why Harper's trying to get this funded.

    It's not that he's pandering to the residents of Windsor. (Both of the Windsor seats are consistently NDP/Liberal, so this would be silly.)

    It's not that he's building bridges for the sake of building bridges, because bridges are cool or something. (Maybe he's building it ironically?)

    It's that this is a major link in our national transportation infrastructure which, nearly a century after its construction, no longer serves its key purpose especially well. It's also likely the case that the tolls from an an expressway-to-interstate bridge [without any downtown streets in between] would be significant enough to turn a profit on the endeavour, even in a split market.)

    None of this entirely dispels the arguments other people are setting forth WRT immediate necessity, or whether the scale of investment is justified. It's true: the existing link definitely isn't crippling cross-border trade.

    But there are more things in play here than governments merely dumping money into the Detroit River.

  9. Taylor

    ^ This.

    The Ambassador Bridge is terrible, no matter what Ayn Rand story you attach to it. It goes through downtown Windsor, is too small, and leads nowhere.

    Governments have the rights to build what they want, and a greedy family shouldn't be able to stop international trade.

  10. Tim

    Taylor – the Ambassdor Bridge does not go through downtown Windsor – check a map.

    When the Windsor Essex Parkway is completed in a couple of years, all that will slow traffic to the 401 from the Ambassador Bridge is a handful of traffic lights on Huron Church (which could be dealt with)

    And it's the government who is stopping international trade, they blocked the Ambassador Bridge from building a second span AT NO COST TO TAXPAYERS, providing the same supposed jobs and trade benefits.

  11. @undefined

    How is the bridge a free-market solution if it's a monopoly?

  12. @undefined

    Well it's not a monopoly (i.e. the tunnel), but it just has been the most popular option (like Windows).

  13. RicardoB

    Oops, my mistake: just read that the tunnel carries no commercial trucks. So not a monopoly for smaller commercial traffic eg. fedex trucks.

  14. ThePsudo

    It's also not a monopoly because boats, planes, and internet are viable alternatives.

  15. Guest

    Wow, the internet is now a means of transporting heavy items? Man, what can;t that thing do. Thank you so much Al Gore ;-)

  16. EBounding

    It's not really a monopoly. There are alternatives as other people have pointed out (Boat, tunnel, train, Blue Water Bridge, air, etc). And those in Michigan cheerleading a new bridge should be aware that Canada has not made a legally binding agreement to pay for all the costs (only a verbal agreement basically).

    I think the real "monopoly" is the Government. Why would any investor want to build a competing bridge if they know the state could just build it's own on a whim? Why bother with the huge risk?

  17. Jake_Ackers

    He built his own bridge. He doesn't have to build another one for someone else. They can build it if they want to.

  18. RicardoB

    One thing to note regarding the commercial traffic: the Detroit-Windsor traffic hosts 18 of 19 traffic lights truck drivers have to pass between Miami and Toronto (and everything in between). It's quite the productivity and environmental drain, though maybe not $550M worth. Granted this link might not change that all, depending whether lights would be avoided via the alternate route or new infrastructure would eliminate them.

  19. Taylor

    It can. The new bridge is an extension of Highway 401 that goes right to the interstate.

  20. Tim

    Cheaper to rework Huron Church to eliminate a handful of traffic lights than a $4B project to avoid them.

  21. EBounding

    This new bridge is being championed by the US auto companies. Well, let them build it. Why should taxpayers subsidize their infrastructure? Canada's pledge to cover all the $2 Billion dollar costs is non-binding too. It's more of a "gentleman's agreement", but not a legal agreement.

    That said, I oppose Prop 6. Amending the constitution for something this granular is ridiculous and dangerous.

  22. mmaluff

    Comment from another article on this:

    "Windsor resident here. I feel the article didn't go a great job of explaining the need for a bridge, so I thought I would shine a bit more perspective on the situation from someone who lives in one of the affected cities.
    As of right now, the Ambassador Bridge is the only crossing in the area that trucks can use. The tunnel between Detroit and Windsor is for passenger vehicles only. The bridge has been a tremendous bottleneck for many years, mostly since 9/11. Immediately after 9/11 when border security was beefed up, it was not uncommon to find trucks waiting to cross into the US be back up almost 15 kilometers, essentially creating a traffic jam that stretched across the city.
    The graph of bridge traffic in the article shows that over the past 10 years traffic. There's two main reasons for this, one of which of course is the economic slowdown which has slowed trade. The second reason however is that the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia was twinned about 15 years back. Once congestions at the Ambassador Bridge got so bad it started taking hours to cross, truck traffic started making the detour to go through Sarnia. It's a longer route but it helps truckers avoid the potential log jams in Windsor.
    Once the economy starts to get going again, you're going to see more trucks crossing the border, which is going to bring back the logjams. The Ambassador Bridge wants to twin their span to support the extra traffic, but the governments don't want this as trucks currently have to cut through about 8km of city in Windsor to get from the highway to the bridge. There is currently a new highway under construction that will feed trucks directly from the 401 (main highway in Ontario) to where the new bridge will be built. This is going to make traffic flow to the border incredibly smooth as you essentially have a highway specifically built for that purpose.
    So in essence, the bridge is important because #1 the extra capacity is going to be needed as soon as the economy gets growing again, and #2 it will keep trucks from having to use Windsor's surface streets to get to the bridge. Also, it's ridiculous that a private individual can own such an important piece of infrastructure that's vital for trade between Canada and the US.
    Now, pretty much everyone on both sides of the border is confident this new bridge will get built eventually. The proposition currently on the ballot in Michigan is to prevent the government from spending any money on a new bridge without voter approval. If passed, this is really just going to be another obstacle to jump over rather than a showstopper for the project. The Government of Canada has already agreed to cover the full cost of the new bridge, which they will recoup by getting 100% of the toll revenue for the first 50 years. Even if this proposition somehow prevents that, the US Federal government has expressed interest in getting this bridge built as well and would simply make it a federally mandated project rather than a state one. Michigan's governor has been hesitant to go this route as he would rather keep it a state project but has said before he has no problem going this route if it becomes necessary.
    So… yes. Basically there are very few people informed about the issue who are on the Ambassador Bridge's side, and there's very little debate that a second bridge downriver is very important for trade and the health of the two communities.
    tl;dr New bridge would have tremendous benefits for both Michigan and Ontario, owner of the privately-owned bridge trying to block it's construction because it would mean less traffic over his bridge.
    EDIT: There have been a few questions in the comments asking how the proposition could stop the bridge at all if the Canadian government is paying for it.
    Canada is going to pay for the entire cost of the bridge, which I believe is estimated to be over $1 billion. On the US side, there are still going to be some costs that they have to cover including expropriating property for a customs plaza and building a short connector road to I-75. The Canadian government hasn't offered to pay those costs, and I believe those are the costs the bridge is hoping to block. (**EDIT: Turns out Canada has agreed to pay for the connector road and expropriation costs[1]
    Should the proposition be successful in preventing the state from spending money on those costs, I believe that is when the US government can step in and make it a federal project rather than a state project, which mean no Michigan funds will be spent on the project at all, so the proposition would have no control over those funds."

  23. Tim

    Regarding trucks backing up on Huron Church:

    A $4B project to simply avoid a handful of traffic lights is a fool's errand. If 250 homes and business in Delray (Detroit) can be levelled for the 'greater good' (NITC) then likewise Sandwich (WIndsor) can be reworked to handle Huron Church handle the increased traffic. This would result in a shorter route for truckers than the proposed NITC route.

    In a nutshell, Sandwich is deemed off limits for reworking Huron Church but somehow it's OK to do it do Delray. That's a total NIMBY mentality. particularly if you are taking a long term, open minded view.

  24. Tim

    …also, "recouping" costs from tolls is simply charging the public who funded the infrastructure to use it; that is, charging them again.

  25. Hentgen

    There are a lot of good posts here already explaining why we need the new bridge, but I'll add to the chorus of voices. This isn't an Atlas Shrugged situation where the good industrialist is proposing to build something better and the government is trying to crush them.

    Harper wants to spend government money on the project because he believes it IS the government's role to provide excellent infrastructure for private industry to succeed. Traffic is down on the Ambassador Bridge because of the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia AND the extra costs of doing cross-border trade after 9/11, but that doesn't mean congestion isn't still a problem. Border crossings are a lot more time consuming than they used to be. Having that backlog run through downtown Windsor and Detroit makes little economic sense.

    The Ambassador bridge is a poorly-positioned, dated bottleneck for Canada-US trade. When I fly out of Detroit, I take the Bluewater bridge in Sarnia to avoid the massive lines and the confusing road connections. Unlike the Ambassador Bridge, Bluewater directly connects the 402 to the I-94.

    Ultimately, what I find ironic is that a Western perspective on the East is so misinformed. Ontarians get a lot of flack for the reverse out West, yet you guys are as guilty of it, too. Think about that the next time you're tempted to complain about Eastern ignornace.

  26. GolfballDM

    Actually, the Ambassador (although I'm far from pro-Maroon) Bridge does connect directly to I-75 now, MDOT had to take Maroon & Co. to court, the judge found Maroon in contempt (including a day in jail), and permitted MDOT to find a different contractor to finish the job and send the Ambassador Bridge folks the bill.

    Of course, that still doesn't help the connection to ON-402, but at least the MI side is better connected now.

  27. @undefined

    It's mostly better connected because of the taxpayer-funded gateway project.

  28. Tim

    The Ambassador Bridge does not through downtown Windsor – check a map (it goes through Sandwich)

    When the Windsor Essex Parkway is completed, a handful of traffic lights on Huron Church will be all that is left as a choke point from the Ambassador Bridge to the 401 (shorter route than from the NITC to the 401).

    (As another poster noted, the US side of the Ambassador Bridge connects to the interstate directly)

    A $4B dollar project to deal with a handful of traffic lights is a not responsible use of taxpayer money.

  29. Hentgen

    Fine, not through "downtown" Windsor, but thanks for making a counterargument based on semantics. It does go through Windsor proper on city streets, just adjacent to the University and the city center. That's massively stupid for a route that is designed to be primarily for cross-border trade.

    The Windsor Essex Parkway is designed to connect the 401 to the new bridge, not to the Ambassador Bridge. The stretch of Huron Church that contains those "handful" of traffic lights are precisely the problem. Talbot was pretty easy going already. (Let's also ignore the fact that the bridge itself, being only 4 mashed-together lanes, is a bottleneck in and of itself.)

    Honestly, it's also entirely laughable to imply that the Ambassador Bridge is better because the route is shorter. You do realize that the having to go 60 km/h on a street with stop lights takes a lot longer going 100 km/h on a highway, right? And, the longer it takes, the more congestion there will be? And the more congestion, then the longer it will take to get to the border? You do also realize that our trucks aren't just going to downtown Detroit, right? That the huge majority of it will be sent south, right? By bypassing Windsor to the south, you're cutting the overall distance traveled to and from Midwestern distribution hubs.

    I have this feeling you've never actually been to this border crossing. There are times when transport trucks outnumber passenger cars, trucks are coming through in large numbers 24 hours a day; it is a hugely busy for commercial endeavors. We're spending $4 billion dollars to improve a trade route that sees $500 million worth of goods cross the border EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    You're seriously proposing that we continue to slow trade by forcing a large number of trucks to cross 100 km north at Sarnia to save money? You're seriously proposing that we continue sending huge quantities of commercial traffic through city streets over an 80 year old 4-lane bridge?

    It's this kind of moronic penny pinching that leads us to have substandard infrastructure that leads to a drag on our economic competitiveness as a nation.

  30. GolfballDM

    ObNitpick (I otherwise mostly agree with your points): The point where the NITC joins the US transport network is not that far (maybe 2miles, if that) south of where the Ambassador Bridge joins up with it (I-75) these days. The big change to the crossing would be where it joins up with the Canadian transport network, and as stated previously, the road capacity will be higher from the base of the bridge eastward.

  31. Tim

    Thanks for your reply Hentgen, I appreciate it,

    I think you missed my point although I did not make it explicitly: remove the less than 2 dozen traffic lights/stops and make Huron Church an expressway. The WE Parkway, when completed, will connect to the foot of Huron Church, simply extend it to the Ambassador Bridge. If 250 homes and business in Delray can be leveled for a NITC expressway then similarly Huron Church in Sanwich can also be reworked. Otherwise, it's a double standard, particularly if we are taking the long view – as you note. the trade value passing thtough Huron Church dwarfs the economic value generated on the street itself.


  32. Hentgen

    Who are you suggesting should pay for the conversion of Huron Church into a dedicated freeway? I haven't heard any proposal from Moroun that would finance it.

    And why should the Canadian people pay for an infrastructure project that would, most directly, improve the business of a family of non-citizens if it could simply build a new bridge in which all Canadian citizens have a stake in?

  33. drs

    Hmm, if markets are so wonderful, and demand is so high, why hasn’t another private bridge been built?

  34. Tim

    Actually, the government blocked the Ambassador Bridge from building a second private span.

  35. Hentgen

    Because in these matters, the market is not free.

  36. The Invisible Hand

    Because of rent-seeking – the owner of the current bridge has been using his influence to block any competitors (private or public) from getting into the game. Prop 6 is the latest example of this, but it's been going on for decades.

  37. Nick W

    You know, I'm not one to immediately side with the public sector, but beyond the other arguments, having a single privately run bridge be the crossing point for a full third of Canadian-US trade is just a terrible, and potentially dangerous state of affairs. That bridge is necessary. It's not going to put that other guy out of business. It's just going to be competition for him.

  38. ThePsudo

    It's not exactly fair competition if he pays taxes that pay for his competition. Imagine if Microsoft managed to extract $5 for every install of Linux.

  39. Taylor

    I think it's brutally unfair that someone making a profit off of a private bridge is provided with the border services required for that bridge to operate for free.

    The bridge was built with the knowledge that anybody else is also allowed to build a bridge, including the government.

  40. tim

    Then why was the Ambassador Bridge owner blocked from building a second span if "anybody else is also allowed to build a bridge,"?

  41. Taylor

    Because it was, like the original bridge, useless in the grand scheme of transport planning. He knew he could get competition at any time from any source.

    Please, let's just let the government have to bend to the will of any person who wants to build any bridge anywhere, no matter how useless.

  42. Tim

    Tim, apologies but you are moving goal posts here.

  43. Trenacker

    If there is demand for a new bridge, in what way does a government purchase violate the fundamental "laws" of supply and demand?

    Moroun has in fact avoided making necessary improvements and repairs to the bridge, and was found guilty in a Michigan court of law. It is not the responsibility of the United States Government to indemnify Moroun against competition.

    Consider other actors in the national security marketplace. Boeing pays taxes that allow the government to let contracts to its competitors in the national defense industrial base. Moroun owns a vital international transportation link. He's got a unique asset in a unique market.

    I'm not really sure where JJ is going with his argument. Are we expected to worship the free market merely because it is free? For a variety of reasons, the free market has led to an inefficient outcome in Windsor and Detroit. Moroun designed and operates the bridge for his own benefit. He has also been given special privileges on par with those extended to the Reedy Creek Improvement District in Orlando, Flordia. In other words, he isn't an ordinary actor. He certainly isn't a Randian actor.

    The Tea Party and Norquist support Moroun out of habit: like the Marxists of old, they can't seem to sort theory from practice. They ride the "free market" train right through the arches of monopoly and market breakdown. They do so for a variety of reasons ranging from our society's tendency to praise and worship the wealthy to a persistent and inaccurate assumption that government operations are always, in every field of endeavor, less efficient or effective, than those carried out by private actors. The problem is that their very oversimplified theories rarely consider socially optimal outcomes. The only person who benefits from Moroun's bridge is Moroun.

    I'd also argue that the Detroit-Windsor link is a very obvious place to focus national security interest. Carrying as much cargo as it does, and being as old as it is, the bridge is clearly an asset that ought to be both well-protected and made redundant, if possible.

  44. Tim

    There isn't a demand for a new bridge – crossing traffic has declined by 40% sine 1999.

    The current owner was blocked by the Cdn government from building a second span – the existing one is old and cheaper to replace than maintain in the long term.

    Regarding "free markets", they don't exist in the current market – only in theory.

  45. Trenacker

    Demand exists because of continued congestion and the vital importance of that link for international trade. The flow is still highly significant despite the decline in use, much of which is probably temporary.

  46. Trenacker

    I should mention that much of my perspective on the Detroit-Windsor Corridor has been informed by a presentation out of Carleton University in Ottawa. Steve A. Thompson did, in my opinion, a bang-up job laying out the issues. Full disclosure: Thompson is a strong proponent of the New International Trade Crossing, which he believes would be the ideal choice from the perspective of Canadian national security. Having supplemented what I gleaned from his presentation (and subsequent discussion) during a conference in Virginia earlier this year with Wikipedia articles, and in comparing it to J.J.'s remarks, I am still inclined to agree with Mr. Thompson.

    In my understanding, the primary problems with Moroun's design are that it creates a chokepoint for long-haul trucking on Fort Street in Windsor, and also lacks a direct connection to I-75. Understandably, Moroun, who derives significant income from duty-free shop and filling stations at the crossing, designed the ramps to route traffic past those commercial properties.

  47. GolfballDM

    The Ambassador Bridge does connect directly to I-75, these days.

    Only after MDOT beat Maroon senseless with a contempt order, found another contractor to complete the work, and sent the Ambassador Bridge folks the bill for any overruns attributed to Maroon's foot dragging.

    It recently opened, getting the trucks off of Fort St. in Detroit.

    IIRC, the duty-free shops that Maroon had setup also got removed, since they were blocking the completion of the project as well.

    As for a second span, I can understand the CDN govt. wanting to keep the crossing traffic off of surface streets (even if most of the lights get removed, and a shorter by distance trip does not mean shorter by minutes), a second span won't alleviate those concerns.

    Frankly, given that Maroon+DIBC/CTC did need to get beaten with a contempt order to finish up the connection on the US side, even if the second span were a good idea, DIBC/CTC has shown themselves to not be a good risk.

  48. Hentgen

    Tim, first you argue that the markets are not free because the government blocked a new private bridge. Now, you argue that there isn't demand for one. Honestly, do you even care that your argument is inconsistent?

    Clearly, Moroun thought there's demand for it. But he wants the government to pay for the infrastructure necessary to use his new bridge while he gets to make all the profit on bridge tolls and duty free. Yeah, that's clearly fair.

  49. Tim

    Thanks Hentgen for your reply.

    I think "free markets" are a theoretical concept and do not exist in reality. Apologies if I came across differently.

    Mouron wants to build a second span because building a new span is cheaper than the longer term costs of maintaining the older existing span. It is a simple business case. Apologies if I did not make that clear (I did state this somewhere else on this page)

    Additionally, Moroun has claimed that no tax dollars, from either side of the border, would be used in his proposed project and knowing that he built the customs plaza expansions after 9/11, am not sure where you are getting your information, I would welcome some details in this regard.


  50. Hentgen

    Tim, I'm guessing now that you're some kind of patsy for Moroun. Interesting.

    But, let's say you're not. How can you possibly suggest that Moroun's plan wouldn't require tax dollars. He's going to build another bridge and fund it himself. Who is going to pay for the connection to the I-75? Who's going to construct it? Moroun botched the implementation of the gateway project that connected the I-75 to the Ambassador Bridge. The MDOT was forced to take over the project and Moroun's company was forced to pay damages.

    Has Moroun offered to pay for any associated infrastructure costs his second span would generate?

  51. Hentgen

    Well, I haven't been to a cross-border bridge that doesn't charge tolls. Frankly, I doubt that the border crossing will need government subsidy – tolls alone should make it profitable and pay off the $4 billion spent up front. There's a lot of traffic crossing there, and we can expect to see more as the need for a detour through Sarnia decrease. And, hopefully, traffic will pick up as border crossing costs decrease.

  52. Tim

    Actually, tollroadnews, a website that covers and monitors toll roads, believes differently with regards to the potential for the NITC to collect and generate a revenue:

    “With total traffic so small that three crossings are barely profitable the notion it can be stretched to support a 4th crossing and service $1,650m seems far fetched.”

    If you google the quote, you can examine their analysis in more detail.

  53. EBounding

    I've always thought the post-9/11 security was bizarre. How would it have prevented 9/11 even if the hi-jackers came from Canada? Why is Canada such a high risk, but not people going from Michigan to Ohio? It's absurd and costly.

  54. Jake_Ackers

    It's not that. Michigan and Ohio are landmasses. You can walk from one to another. MI and Canada are connected by a bridge which carries a ton of traffic. If the bridge is disabled then what happens? Can't swim tons of cargo across as quick as you can drive it.

  55. EBounding

    There's a bridge between Ohio and Michigan too (Maumee River). There's lots of bridges within the US that transport cargo without grueling inspection. Why can't we give Canadian traffic similar trust?

    I'm just saying they should reduce some of the security and get rid of the passport requirement to come into the US. That should speed things up and really show how much lower traffic is at the crossing.

  56. SES

    I agree, but the Maumee River is completely in Ohio. The border between the states is on land.

  57. AddThreeAndFive

    Count me as someone for the new bridge. It's ridiculous to have a major trade route go through the center of a town and only one way to cross. Also, i hope it will give Detroit's economy the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. The bridge is 85 years old and I say it's time for a new one. Updating North America's infrastructure is crucial if we want to stay competitive globally. The fact that Canada is paying for it is a godsend.

  58. Tim

    Thanks for your reply Taylor.

    The NITC will route an expressway right behind a school in Delray. If 250 homes and businesses in Delray can be on the leveled to make room an expressway then such scale of rework should also be on the table for Sandwich. Otherwise, it's a double standard.

    Whether or not a private businessman, on either side of the border, makes a profit or not is secondary to the bottom line value for tax payer dollars. Besides, the NITC is P3 so private business is making a profit on that project as well.


  59. Jake_Ackers

    Now is the time. Once the economy recovers the traffic will increase even more so. Especially if that Pan Pacific Free Trade Agreement passes. Plus terrorist attack or not, if that bridge is disabled there goes a chunk of commerce.

  60. concrete cleaning

    As the program unfolds, hopefully there will be more chances for youth at risk and underground artists to express themselves, concrete cleaning products leaving illegal spray painting out the picture. Giving someone an outlet can make all the difference in their future.