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Behind schedule, Gordie Howe Bridge faces obstacles on both sides of the border

Gary Elrod
The owner of the Ambassador Bridge has not been eager to see a second bridge across the Detroit River.

The new international trade crossing between Detroit and Windsor seemed to be making all kinds of progress. In 2015, the Canadian government agreed to pick up Michigan’s share of the Gordie Howe Bridge’s cost, removing a major hurdle to the project’s completion.

While the Canadians were at work building approaches on their side of the Detroit River, Michigan was supposed to be purchasing the necessary property to do the same on the U.S. side.

But somewhere along the way, progress stalled. 

It wasn’t until November 10th of this year that the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority issued formal requests for a proposal to the teams who hope to build the bridge. That represents a delay of nearly eleven months. So what went wrong?

Anne Jarvis, a reporter with the Windsor Star newspaper, looked into the delays. She found a few possible culprits, including the new prime minister in Ottawa.

“When Mr. Trudeau was elected about a year ago, the project just seemed to slow,” she told us. “The urgency seemed to evaporate, and there were other troubling signs.”

The fault doesn’t lie entirely on the Canadian side of the border. According to Jarvis, Detroit businessman Matty Moroun owns 22 out of 29 properties needed for the U.S. side of the bridge.

That’s problematic because he also owns the Ambassador Bridge—and, therefore, a monopoly on international truck traffic between Windsor and Michigan. That monopoly would be broken by the completion of a new span over the Detroit River.

Jarvis said that the Moroun family has hired an influential lobbying firm in Windsor, in part to advocate against the Gordie Howe Bridge.

“The Moroun family and their senior people for the Ambassador Bridge are looking pretty buoyant these days, and you have to wonder why,” she told us.

Listen to our full interview with Anne Jarvis of the Windsor Star above. 

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