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Local News

Tuesday, 1 March, 2011 12:10 PM

Six out of nine want the new Detroit bridge crossing to be adjacent to Ambassador Bridge

Photo credit: www.ambassadorbridge.com

This is a rendering of what the new six-lane, second span of the Ambassador Bridge would look like.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

|

DETROIT -- Everyone agrees that Detroit needs a second bridge to lessen the backup for cars and semi trucks. But the question is where. There are two plans on the table right now. Manuel "Matty" Moroun, the current owner of the Ambassador Bridge and the Michigan Central Train Depot, wants the new bridge to be located parallel to his. Meanwhile, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proposed the new bridge to be located two miles south, near historic Fort Wayne. Metro Detroit residents are sounding off as the debate continues.

After completing a survey with nine people in downtown Detroit, six of them support Moroun's plan to have the new bridge adjacent to the current bridge while only three people said they would prefer to have the new bridge located downriver. Nine individuals were interviewed to avoid a possible tie. This data is just a random sampling and is not a representation of the total population of metro Detroit.

Gov. Snyder discussed his plans for the new bridge crossing during his State of the State address. He spoke about it again on Feb. 14 during the Crain's Newsmaker of the Year announcement at the Joe Louis Arena. Snyder said the U.S. Dept. of Transportation will consider Canada's $550 million commitment to the project.

"We're in good shape in respect to using those matching funds," he explained. "The only question left on that is until we get the project going and using those funds is we can't use them as matching funds. In terms of the theory, the approach, the Federal Highway Administration has given us a letter of that effect. We're working hard on the bridge project overall in terms of moving it forward. I think we're seeing some great support coming out from the auto industry and other people already talking about the need for the new crossing and how we can work together. I always view it as not just a bridge, it's about international trade. It's about supporting all of our crossings including the Ambassador Bridge. Let's trade environment for more international commerce in a positive way. It's win for everyone, I hope."

The Michigan Farm Bureau recently announced it is supporting Snyder's plan for the new bridge crossing. It would be connected to I-75 via Jefferson Ave. on the Detroit side and Highway 401 via Russel St. on the Windsor side. Canada would pay for toll plazas on both sides of the bridge while the U.S. government would pay for the custom's office on the Detroit side.

The Detroit International Bridge Company is working to build the second span of the Ambassador Bridge 100 feet west of the current Ambassador Bridge. Moroun, 82, also owns the Michigan Central Train Depot and hundreds of other properties within the city. In addition, he has been buying up properties on both sides of the border for the last decade to support the new bridge.

"The Ambassador Bridge, a Michigan Company, held a news conference on February 16th where they announced $867 million worth of toll credits to be used by Michigan to leverage over $3 billion of Federal Transportation Funds," said Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the United States Chamber of Commerce. "This is what the private sector does best. The Ambassador Bridge is a good solution - I say build it!"

The Detroit International Bridge Company has already invested more than $60 million in a state-of-the-art water reclamation and treatment facility, according to AmbassadorBridge.com. The second span will have six new lanes of traffic and a shoulder in both directions. The historic bridge will be used for overflow traffic, maintenance vehicles and special events.

The problem is there can only be one new bridge built. Some type of agreement has to be made for this project to go forward. A total of 4,000 jobs will be created from the new bridge, with over 20,000 more jobs over the next 20 years.

The Ambassador Bridge is worth over $1 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. Construction began in 1927 and it was completed in 1929. It consists of four lanes connecting I-75/I-96 with Ontario's Highway 3. The Ambassador Bridge is 7,500 ft. long and is 152 ft. above ground level. It has been featured in films such as "Hoffa," "8 Mile," "Crossing the Brdge," "Grosse Pointe Blank," "Sicko" and "Bowling for Columbine."

Most metro Detroiters side with Moroun on the new bridge crossing

"I go to Canada about once a month," said Bryon Giannini, a resident of Detroit. "I say it should be right next to the first one because of keeping the main flow of traffic right next to each other. Detroit is congested enough. Why make more traffic and more hell for everybody? The worst mistake I ever did was taking the bridge when it was backed up. From that day on, I take the tunnel."

Fellow Detroit resident Teresa Ponce agrees: "It's a hard time to go over there. But, I can see it everyday. We have the Ambassador Bridge there and you've got it already started. So why not finish what you already started? Alright, they've already bought out whatever they can. I live in the old part of Detroit right by St. Anne's, the second oldest Catholic church in the United States. I just assume they keep on continuing right there. They already spent enough money, let's just finish it. I watch the backup, I can see the bridge from my house."

"I go to Canada a few times per year," said Kim March, a resident of Warren, Mich. "I think right next to it. I like the tunnel more."

Fellow Warren resident Tara Jacques agrees: "They can just make it right next to it. It's easier, customs is already right there and everything so they don't have to tear down other stuff. I like the tunnel--I feel safer, even though it's underwater."

Two other individuals also supported Moroun's plan, but did not provide their last names.

Some agree with Gov. Snyder on the location of the new bridge

"I go to Canada about twice, three times per year," said Ray Chapman, a resident of Lincoln Park, Mich. "It would give people downriver a chance to get on the bridge. Matty ain't been taking care of the train station so you know how he's doing the bridge here. I think a lot people downriver would take a lot more care of it. Space it out so downriver people don't have to drive through all of the traffic to get into Detroit to cross the bridge. It's already a hassle trying to get onto it anyways. Downriver all the way."

Fellow Lincoln Park resident JoAnne Conner agrees: "I think it would be better downriver to have people down there have closer access to it. I think it would be better downriver, I don't think it's a good idea to have two right there. I think traffic congestion, kind of space them out. I think they just need to build it downriver."

"I haven't been there in four years--I used to go to Leamington, Ont. all the time," said Walter Carroll, a resident of Ecorse, Mich. "It would be a good thing for the business that I work at. Because all of the truck travel that comes through there. It might bring more business to the place where I work at. About 10 years ago, I used to go and there was always slow travel through there. I hope they're going to have another bridge to stop the backup. They need some easy access to get across to Canada."

The Detroit-Windsor border crossing is the busiest among the two nations. Each day, 10,000 semi trucks cross the bridge. There is no doubt that another bridge is needed to alleviate the long backups for cars and semi trucks.

What's Next: The Michigan legislature is looking at both proposals and will ultimately have the final say when it is put up for a vote.

Related Story: Gov. Snyder offers a preview of upcoming cuts to Michigan's state budget

 

 

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Ambassador Bridge, as seen from the Detroit International Riverfront.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Windsor, Ontario on the left with the Ambassador Bridge in the center and Detroit, Michigan on the right.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Gov. Snyder's plan calls for the new bridge to be located near Delray Park, about two miles south from the current bridge.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A look at the Ambassador Bridge during the summer.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Manuel "Matty" Moroun also owns the Michigan Central Train Depot, as seen from the former site of Tiger Stadium.

 

 

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