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Talking two ways

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Unlike Detroit's increasingly pathetic dailies, the Windsor Star actually sees some value to informing its readers about what's going on with transportation mogul Manuel "Matty" Moroun and his Ambassador Bridge dealings.

Of course, the Star doesn't carry the awesome journalistic burden of striving to fill front-page news holes with big pics and scintillating features about all sorts of things involving pucks and balls, be they the foot, base or basket variety. But, hey, you have to have your priorities.

The Star, on the other hand, with reporter Dave Battagello leading the way, is actually paying attention to what's going on with the Ambassador Bridge and competing efforts by the Detroit River International Crossing — a binational effort involving federal, state and provincial governments from both sides of the river — to anchor the American side of the span in Detroit's Delray area.

So we read with interest recently the Star story reporting that Moroun, whose privately held company owns the Ambassador, thinks that a second Detroit bridge would be a mistake.

Battagello caught up with Moroun at a chamber of commerce luncheon in Windsor, where the mogul informed the reporter that this area's faltering economy and an increased reliance on rail shipments means growth in bridge traffic "won't be there," rendering a second crossing unnecessary.

As Battagello rightly notes, Moroun's words "seemingly fly in the face of the bridge's moves in recent months to expand its [truck] plazas in Windsor and Detroit."

Moroun's statement becomes even more of a puzzler when you consider that his company in July applied to the state for a permit to build a new six-lane bridge adjacent to the Ambassador.

Huh?

That's right. Except that Moroun and his minions are calling the new span an "enhancement" to the existing bridge. The "enhancement" is needed, the bridge company states in documents filed with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, because the existing Ambassador Bridge has to be closed for "evaluation and repair," and to determine whether the 77-year-old structure is "economically viable for future use."

"Once the new structure is completed," the company told the DEQ, "the existing Ambassador Bridge will be taken out of service in order to evaluate and make repairs deemed necessary and economically feasible. Upon completion of the anticipated repairs, the existing bridge will be used to provide redundancy and backup support when necessary to ensure the free flow of traffic at all times."

So, there you have it. We don't really need a new bridge, except that we really do need a new bridge. Or, to put it another way, in Matty's view, we really do need a new bridge, we just don't need one that will provide his company with competition, and the public with an alternative to his monopoly.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at NewsHits@metrotimes.com or

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