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Old Posted Jan 29, 2009, 10:38 AM
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LMich LMich is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Big Mitten
Posts: 31,745
An the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement (private bridge) takes another step forward, as well:


Bond sale OK'd for private Detroit-Windsor bridge


In the long-running contest to build one or possibly two new bridges between Detroit and Windsor, businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun just won a round -- but he faces several more challenges.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved Moroun's plan to borrow nearly $800 million to pay for construction of a second span next to the Ambassador Bridge.

Whether Moroun can parlay that into building a second span adjacent to his privately owned Ambassador Bridge remained in doubt. Moroun still needs further approvals on both sides of the border and faces opposition in Windsor.

Even so, Moroun could savor at least a partial victory in the DOT's approval that lets him seek to sell $787.4 million in Private Activity Bonds -- tax-exempt bonds that carry the same low interest rate as government bonds.

Coming the same month that the U.S. DOT gave final environmental approval to a rival plan to build a publicly owned bridge between Detroit and Windsor two miles downriver near Zug Island, the approvals mean that both projects have taken a step forward.

However, the DOT made clear in its letter of approval for Moroun's financing that it was not endorsing his plan over the other.

Before he can proceed, Moroun still needs a crucial permit from the U.S. Coast Guard and get the Michigan Strategic Fund to approve issuing the Private Activity Bonds, both of which Moroun hopes to get in the coming weeks or months.

Even greater roadblocks await him on the Canadian side of the border. Windsor opposition centers on the heavy truck traffic passing through central Windsor to the Ambassador Bridge. Windsor residents also object to the potential demolition of homes to make way for new bridge approaches there.

Mark Butler, a spokesman for Transport Canada, the agency equivalent to the U.S. DOT, said Wednesday that Moroun needs at least two approvals from Canadian federal authorities before he can build his second span.

Where the trees are the right height
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