Port deal may give Moroun control over new Windsor-Detroit bridge: Bloomberg

DETROIT — An agreement last spring that gave Ambassador Bridge owner Manual “Matty’ Moroun control of the Port of Detroit also contains a clause that could give him operating rights to a new bridge, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

The dockland deal, signed this past May, transfers ownership of the existing port property from Detroit Marine Terminals to the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority, which, in turn, entered into an operating agreement with the Ambassador Port Corp.

The agreement reopens a 34-acre dock for ocean vessels and allows Moroun to operate the dock for as long as 90 years. He would also collect all revenue from the dock and pay 2.5 percent of that amount to the authority.

With each deal he makes, Moroun closes on securing
a new bridge across the Detroit River, sources say

The Port Authority says it was able to negotiate the deal within the final weeks of a legal settlement that would have placed the port property on the public auction blocks, thus “eliminating it as a true public asset.”

Bloomberg reports, however, that the contract also allows Moroun “to run other transportation projects that the port authority may build.” That could mean exclusive operating rights for a new bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ont. if it’s built at the dock site — which is about 2 km southwest of the existing Ambassador Bridge.

The agency may sell bonds to build a bridge that Moroun would run, Deputy Director Steve Olinek told the news agency.

“This will be the first time in southeast Michigan that we’ll be able to bring waterborne cargo, rail and trucks all together. In the transportation industry today, that’s where it’s at,” said Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Executive Director Curtis Hertel at the time in a press release.

The news release didn’t mention the Ambassador Group’s potential role in a new bridge.

In return for the port deal, Moroun agrees to pay off $2.7 million in bonds on which Detroit Marine Terminals had defaulted as well as $8 million in capital improvements for the dock facilities, according to Bloomberg.

Last month, a binational task force in charge of choosing the next border crossing across the Detroit River essentially narrowed its selection down to a new bridge to be built in the corridor near the port on the U.S. side.

— with files from Bloomberg news

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