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Morouns try new tactic in bridge fight: TV appeal to President Trump

artist rendering of proposed bridge
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority
An artist's rendering of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

The family that owns the Ambassador Bridge is apparently trying a new tactic to stop a competing bridge from being built: a TV ad appealing directly to President Donald Trump.

“Dear Mister President,” the ad begins. “There are two grand new bridges being proposed in Detroit between America and Canada.”


In fact, the new Gordie Howe International Bridge is already being prepped for construction.The bridge is being financed by the Canadian government, and will be jointly owned by Canada and Michigan.

But the ad says it’s a “Canadian” bridge, and that President Obama “inexplicably” issued a presidential permit for its construction.

“We have a simple request,” the ad goes on to say. “Please review that presidential permit. Then, revoke that presidential permit.”

The ad calls the Howe Bridge “Canadian-made” and “Canadian-owned,” adding: “Who knows who would make the steel.” President Obama did grantthe bridge a waiver from “America First” supply-buying provisions, which stipulates that steel and other materials for the bridge will be made in either the U.S. or Canada.

The one-minute ad apparently aired on Fox News’s Fox and Friends program, which President Trump is known to watch. It’s backed by the Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge that currently connects Detroit and Windsor.

The Morouns’ Detroit International Bridge Company has long wanted to build its own new U.S.-Canada bridge, and has used the courts and other measures to try and stop construction of a new, publicly owned span. Such a bridge would be “American-made” and “American-owned,” the ad asserts.

The Morouns’ direct plea comes at a time when Trump has moved toput tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel, supposedly on national security grounds. It’s also a critical time for the Howe Bridge, with the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority originally scheduled to choose private contractors for construction this month.

The Bridge Authority could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

In a statement, Detroit International Bridge Company President Dan Stamper said:

“The Ambassador Bridge new span lines up with President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda, private investment in infrastructure, and the current national discussion about free & fair trade. We have permits in both countries to begin construction. Unfortunately, Canada included anti-competitive conditions to tear down the current bridge, which is completely inconsistent with the environmental clearances in both countries and the U.S. permits approved years before. We are appealing to the administration directly because the administration has the ability in the Presidential Permitting process to side with an American company.” “The Ambassador Bridge’s second span will create thousands of good paying American jobs using American steel. Unfortunately we remain at a competitive disadvantage with Canada because of the Obama Administration, and the Canadian government subsidy for their bridge.”

The Canadian government’s permit giving the DIBC the go-ahead to build a new bridge contains several conditions, including that construction on the new bridge must begin within five years, and that the old bridge must be demolished no more than five years after the second span opens to traffic.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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