with a flood of ads lambasting the Government Bridge proposed to link
Detroit and Windsor in Canada.
These commercials have all the nuance of a wedding cake sliced with a meat
axe. Its a wonder they dont refer to the project as the Gubmint
Bridge for Snuffy Smith types who cant handle three syllables.
Backing the commercials is billionaire Manuel Matty Moroun, an
84-year-old trucking tycoon who owns the Ambassador Bridge which links the
U.S. to Canada. Moroun purchased the Ambassador Bridge 32 years ago and
has owned a monopoly over one of Americas busiest and most important
trade routes ever since.
But if youve ever had the misfortune to cross the 82-year-old Ambassador
Bridge, you know that its a narrow, run-down structure that is inadequate
to handle the 9,000 vehicles which cross it each day.
So the Government Bridge is mostly bad news for Moroun, whose ads
trample the truth for the sake of his own pocketbook.
The correct name of the proposed government bridge project is the
Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), which would be located two
miles downriver from the Ambassador Bridge.
How much will this free bridge cost your family? asks a flyer
targeting State Senator Howard Walkers vote on the project. Although the
flyer insinuates that taxpayers will pay for the new bridge, one can
imagine it wont cost the average Michigan family one tin nickel, since
the bridge will be paid for with tolls and bonds over the course of
Three years ago, Canadian officials offered to loan Michigan $550 million
to begin construction of a new bridge. According to the Michigan
Department of Transportation, the bridge would raise more than $70 million
in tolls during its first year, with up to $240 million raised per year by
The Big 3 automakers are all in favor of the new bridge, as is the mayor
of Detroit. General Motors employs 9,000 workers in Canada, while Chrysler
employs 11,000. A better bridge is needed to shuttle auto parts back and
forth across the border to increase trade and jobs in both countries. In
Fords case, dailyfinance.com reports that the company sends 600 trucks
across the border at Detroit every day.
Governor Rick Snyder is urging construction of the new bridge, as are
business interests across the state. The private/public project would
create thousands of good-paying jobs in a town that desperately needs them
and would improve Michigans trade and tourism with Canada.
But, according to a recent column by Phil Power of The Center for
Michigan, Moroun has been spreading campaign contributions thick and fast
around Lansing. As a result, a bunch of legislators primarily
Republicans oppose the public-private project the governor favors. They
say theyll only approve an all-private bridge meaning one built by
According to an investigation by the Detroit Free Press, Moroun parceled
out $1.5 million in 2009-10 to backers of his plan. That included 45
This is outrageous. Michigan and Detroit need jobs and the trade that a
new bridge would provide. What we dont need is a legislature that caves
in to the cash of a single billionaire -- and one who plays us all as
fools to boot.
If nothing else, the Government Bridge deserves our support as payback
to Moroun for interrupting American Idol and reruns of Two and a Half Men
with his irritating, insulting commercials. These ads assume that
Michigan citizens are the sort of dim bulbs who have an automatic kneejerk
reaction to anything slapped with a government label. We the people
elected our government -- were not all government-hating members of the
Tea Party or the Timothy McVeigh Fan Club.
Enough! Ask State Senator Walker and your local representatives to
support the new bridge proposal for more jobs in Michigan and the common