Jan 19, 2010

Ambassador Bridge owner has a ‘deal’ for you

Republican billionaire benefactor and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun has found a new tactic to hang on to his monopoly as the owner of only one of two international border crossings in private hands: bribe taxpayers.

The budget crisis has hit Michigan hard, and the state could lose up to $475 million in federal aid for roads and bridges in 2011 because it lacks about $84 million in local matching funds. Federal law allows state highway departments to count private investment in certain projects as the 20 percent local match for U.S. aid, some times known as toll credits.

According to a story in the Detroit Free Press on Friday, Moroun will allow his toll credits to be used as a local match for federal aid. However, there is a catch. He will only allow the use of the credit if the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) agrees not to use that money to support competing bridge projects, which means the planned public-private bridge at a site located downriver from the current Ambassador Bridge at the site of the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) Study.

Moroun has tried a lot of things in the past to keep the monopoly on the 80-year old bridge. Just a few weeks ago he actually purchased some of the land where the new crossing would be located to either stop it or to hold taxpayers hostage for more money. In the past, he has contributed heavily to politicians to get them to do his bidding, and he has tried to get rid of those who would not and actually stood up to him.

He has made lots of money from the busiest border crossing in North America, and he aims to keep it that way at all costs.

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