Monday, July 26, 2010

At Canadian Border, a Bridge to Prosperity

(Jeff Bennett — Wall Street Journal)

Billionaire Businessman Is Expected to Win Key Permit Allowing Him to Build a New Private Toll Span Between Detroit and Ontario

Billionaire businessman Manuel “Matty” Moroun is poised to move a step closer to tightening his control of traffic across the Detroit River, one of the continent’s busiest and most economically vital border crossings.

Mr. Moroun, whose Detroit International Bridge Co. owns the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is expected this week to win approval from Canadian customs authorities for a key part of his plan to build a second span over the same stretch of water. By contrast, plans for a competing, publicly owned bridge have stalled amid concerns over the potential cost to taxpayers.

At stake are tens of millions of dollars of annual toll revenue and a critical link in the U.S. auto industry’s supply chain.

Customs authorities’ go-ahead for a new bridge plaza to be developed by Mr. Moroun—including toll booths and customs-inspection buildings—would all but clear the way for his company to seek a final environmental permit from the Canadian transportation department to build the new six-lane bridge, adjacent to the existing one. The permit is one of the few regulatory hurdles remaining before construction can begin. Read more here.