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Here’s how Michigan got Canada to pay for their new bridge—but might turn it down, anyway

There is only one above-ground way for commercial vehicles to get from Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan: the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge.

The Ambassador Bridge is owned and operated by the Detroit International Bridge Company, which is privately owned by Manuel Moroun and his family. They charge a toll that generates $60 million in annual revenue for the company.

Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan, and the Canadian government want to build a second bridge to ease traffic on the Ambassador and provide a new conduit for trade. The new bridge is expected to cost $2.3 billion.

Under pressure from tea party groups and others, the Michigan legislature declined to fund the proposed bridge.

Not to be deterred, the Canadian government agreed to front as much as $550 million for Michigan’s half of the bridge in exchange for repayment in the form of future toll revenue.

Meanwhile, the US government is allowing Canada’s $550 million investment in Michigan to count toward federal matching funds, releasing $2.2 billion for road work across Michigan.

But the bridge could still be defeated on Election Day. Proposition 6 would require voter approval for any new spending on bridges or tunnels to Canada, including the proposed new bridge. The measure is sponsored by a group backed by Manuel Moroun.

Sources

New International Trade Crossing, Presidential Permit Application (pdf)
Matty Moroun, Detroit’s Border Baron, Bloomberg Businessweek
A Double Crossing From Canada to Detroit?, Bloomberg Businessweek 
They aren’t building that, The Economist 
Bridging the border: Who pays? Michigan Radio
Bridge, union rights, tax measure make Nov. ballot but casino effort blocked Detroit Free Press 

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