Seize the bridge!

By Joel Thurtell

The Windsor Star has called on Canadian governments to nationalize the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge linking the U.S. and Canada.

About time somebody took this idea seriously.

Besides me.

Back on May 14, 2009, I argued that governments, using their power of eminent domain, simply condemn Matty Moroun’s beloved, lucrative and decrepit Ambassador Bridge. There’s not much leadership right now on the U.S. side, but if the Canadians took over that portion of the bridge that rests on their territory, it might build a fire under U.S. authorities. It might shame them into doing what’s right for the common good instead of playing the billionaire’s shoddy game.

One piece of advice I’d change. Instead of having the Canadian and U.S. governments operate the bridge, I’d suggest doing one of two things: 1) Tear it down as a public nuisance and replace it with the government-supported Detroit River International Crossing bridge; or 2) build the DRIC, but re-open the Ambassador as a theme park dedicated to the merits of PUBLIC transportation.

Here’s what I wrote then:

Remember what JOTR said when this whole story surfaced last September? Why not send a city work crew with bulldozers, backhoes and a SWAT team to Riverside Park?

Tear down Matty’s fence.

Tear down Matty’s fraudulent Homeland Security “no trespassing” signs.

Replace those basketball courts.

Re-sod the area Matty tore up.

Once started, why stop with taking back the park?

Turn Matty’s medicine back on him. Send that SWAT team in to seize the bridge itself.

Lots of chatter about whether Matty has the power of eminent domain.

Surely, the government has the power to condemn private property, including a privately-owned international bridge.

I understand 40 percent of the freight passing between Canada and the U.S. goes by way of the Ambassador bridge.

The people need to own the bridge.

Seize it!

If Matty sends out his private army of shave-domed, shotgun-slingin’ hooligans, why hey — I kinda think Detroit cops could sent em packin.

If there’s a problem, maybe Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans could lend a few deputies and even Gov. Jennifer Granholm could sending the National Guard.

Take the bridge. 

Wouldn’t that be great?

Number One thing a public owner would do? Have the bridge inspected for safety. That would be a first. That would lead, inevitably, to defusing the bomb under the bridge, i.e., dismantling those underground fuel storage tanks sitting under the bridge along with the 300,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel that are the biggest security risk facing this bridge.

Number Two: According to law, no more hazardous material trucks on the bridge. That would be a first.

Number Three: Run the bridge as a public entity generating revenue for the public treasury. Another first.

Lastly, tell Matty if he wants his bridge back, he can sue.

Isn’t that kind of what Matty’s telling the city?

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2 Responses to Seize the bridge!

  1. Fiona Lowther says:

    Joel, the Moroun saga is turning into the Never-Ending Story. What is sad is that it needn’t have come to this.
    The entire situation is a perfect example of the need for an active, concerned and involved news media. Moroun didn’t just pop up overnight; he has been operating with impunity for many years. Yet, as recently as some two or three years ago, if you had asked the Man in the Street who owned the Ambassador Bridge, I doubt that more than a minute fraction of a percentage of people would’ve even known that it was privately owned, and that one man has a chokehold on the economies of two countries.
    Aside of a reporter named Dave Battagello, who for years wrote articles about Matty in the Windsor Star, none of the “big-city” newspapers or radio or TV shows offered more than an occasional mention — in passing — of Matty and his machinations.
    Unless the public read Jack Lessenberry and Curt Guyette in Metro Times, Detroit’s superb alternative weekly, or, few Detroiters were aware of the fox in the henhouse who was usurping city property, and buying up officials and politicians. Of course, once Jack, Joel and Curt told it like it was, the local news media started picking up the story and running with the ball.
    We the people need a free and awake press. But we need a press that is willing to dig out and publish the news, that is willing to allocate space to something besides the latest celebrity scandal.
    Thank you, Dave Battagello; thank you, Jack Lessenberry; thank you, Joel Thurtell; thank you, Curt Guyette — and thank you to the rest of the news media: Better late than never.

  2. Wade P. Streeter says:

    I’m not sure if it would be legal or not, but I always felt the least the courts could do is order Matty to close his Duty Free Store under the bridge until there’s a resolution in court. All that is happening now is that he continues to rake in profits and more profits from the Duty Free store and bogging down the legal process so he can do so. I’ve been asked “Well, what if he retaliated by shutting down the bridge” Well, what would happen? He’d shoot himself in the foot and prove to everyone why a piece of infrastructure so critical to the economy and homeland security should not be privately owned and the DRIC would probably go through quickly and by an overhwelming majority. Shut ‘er down Matty and show us how powerful you are and we’ll sit back and watch you fall on your face.

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