Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do We Have A Border Stalemate

Honestly, nothing makes sense to me any more on the border file.

Canada has a secret Mandate to buy the Ambassador Bridge yet the Federal Budget only mentions $10M over 3 years "to support the legal, financial and technical work required to advance this [DRIC] project." Where's the slush fund hidden to pay for the Bridge if Moroun decides to sell?

For 3 1/2 years, the Coast Guard has held the Bridge Company file open. However, a few months before the Michigan Legislature is to decide if it is going to support DRIC or not, the Coast Guard suddenly hits pretty hard by returning the Bridge Company permit application to them but then tells them they can re-apply once certain conditions are met.

However, DRIC has property problems too and yet no one seems concerned about them:
  • "A land purchase by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun has created a new complication for the Detroit River International Crossing project -- but the Michigan Department of Transportation insists the plan for a publicly owned span won't be derailed..

    On Thursday, the Moroun-owned company Central Transport International Inc. announced it has bought property in southwest Detroit to consolidate its truck terminal operations.

    The 42-acre parcel of land is located on West Jefferson Avenue in the Delray area of Detroit. The southeast edge of the property overlaps the proposed footprint of the DRIC bridge...

    Asked what DRIC had planned to put on the land now owned by Moroun, Shreck replied: "I think it's where some access ramps may be."

Move-counter/move...and we have not seen the major lawsuits by either side started yet. We are in the skirmishes stage right now.

Good old Jack Lessenberry posted a column about the Coast Guard action and I decided to respond to it:

  • "If only life was as simple as Jack thinks.

    Let's assume Matty has been stopped, an assumption one ought not to make so quickly. Does that mean a DRIC bridge will be built?

    Nope, remember there are all kinds of lawsuits out there already that will have to be litigated including one that could stop MDOT cold.

    Canada tried once before to beat Moroun over Bridge ownership and was forced to settle. What has changed since then to improve Canada's position?

    A new bridge may NOT be needed until as late as 2035-40 according to MDOT's Algurabi at the hearings of Senator Cropsey. So why would money be spent at a time when the US and Michigan are in deep debt? Michigan already cannot pay for hundreds of road and bridge projects.

    Moreover, traffic is now below 1999 levels.

    The Ambassador Bridge would still be competing for traffic so who would invest in bonds that might never be repaid since tolls at the new bridge would have to be several times higher than Moroun's to pay back the billions involved. The traffic would stay at the old bridge and the new one would go broke. Or would Michigan taxpayers have to subsidize the DRIC bridge operations?

    Of course there is no P3 legislation in Michigan and the MDOT traffic report has problems since it does not meet the statutory requirement.

    Canada's secret mandate letter issued last X-mas to buy the Ambassador Bridge proves that Canada has NO intention and never did to build a DRIC Bridge but wants Matty's bridge and to build a second bridge there. DRIC was just a smokescreen to get Moroun to sell cheaply.

    What we have Jack is a stalemate right now. It can only be resolved by the Governments and Moroun sitting down and honestly trying to negotiate a resolution of the border war or we will be in this mess for decades.

    We have lost already the period from late 2002 until today because of this silly bickering."

I just do not get it. Why can't the parties work together to arrive at a solution satisfactory to everyone?