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Michigan bridge owner opposes second span

Traffic crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Jan. 31, 2008. The owner of the bridge opposes a plan backed by Gov. Rick Snyder to build a second span near the Ambassador.  (AP file photo by Carlos Osorio)Warren, MI (AP) — A plan backed by Gov. Rick Snyder to build a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, “should be stopped,” the owner of the existing bridge said.

Detroit-area billionaire businessman Manuel “Matty” Moroun told the Detroit Free Press the plan to build a second bridge near the Ambassador Bridge that Moroun owns would hurt jobs in Michigan, including at Moroun’s bridge and trucking companies.

“I don’t know what the governor’s doing,” Moroun said Monday at his corporate headquarters in Warren. “He’s probably going to win. I can’t stop him, but he should be stopped. He’s doing the wrong thing.”

Snyder contends the bridge project he supports would create jobs, strengthen the state economy and help establish Michigan as a hub for global commerce.

The first-term Republican governor announced during his State of the State speech in January that he backs the project that would be paid for both publicly and privately. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Snyder’s point person on the project, said the Moroun family’s recent efforts to kill the project, including an aggressive advertising campaign, won’t work.

“The fact that they’re spending millions of dollars,” Calley said, “that tells you that they’re starting to feel nervous.”

Moroun has been battling government entities in the United States and Canada for several years while seeking to build his own second span across the Detroit River. Moroun’s wife, Nora Moroun, who also is speaking out on the issue, said Michigan’s leaders should be on her husband’s side in his proposal.

“When you have a private company willing to take all the cost and all the risk in this economy and invest in Detroit,” she said, “it’s appalling that we even have this fight.”

Calley said legislation to authorize the project Snyder backs should be introduced soon in Lansing.

Snyder said in January he secured a “unique agreement” from the Federal Highway Administration during a visit to Washington that would let the state count $550 million that Canada has offered for the project toward Michigan’s federal match for road money. He has said Michigan will not take on any debt for the project.

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