By on September 16, 2016

Ambassador Bridge (Stephen Boyle/Flickr)

The iconic (#iconic?) Ambassador Bridge is an impressive feat of engineering, but the march of time leaves both scars and decay.

No longer occupying the centerfold in plastic-wrapped copies of Bridges Monthly, the critical cross-border link spanning the Detroit River has received a temporary band-aid after officials determined there wasn’t much holding vehicles back from a 152-foot plunge.

According to the Detroit Free Press, temporary barricades are now in place after the Canadian government issued an emergency order earlier this month. Transportation regulator Transport Canada declared that the curb and railing on the Windsor side, in its current state, “would not deflect traffic back onto the bridge should traffic impact such curb and railing.”

The move comes almost a year after the city of Windsor closed streets below the 87-year-old bridge due to falling concrete.

The Windsor Star reports that 5,000 Zoneguard barriers are now installed along the outer lanes in both directions. The barriers have caused some temporary traffic disruption on the busiest crossing between the two countries, but that’s nothing compared to what a repair job will do to vehicle flow. Both countries desperately want a new bridge, but the process is slow (and made slower by the Ambassador’s owner).

Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun wants to build his own bridge, while Canada wants to chip in big bucks for the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge, just downstream from the Ambassador. The Moroun family is reportedly planning a new legal salvo to launch at proponents of the Gordie Howe bridge.

Canada’s transportation minister has issued a warning to the Moroun-controlled company in charge of the bridge.

“I ask the Canadian Transit Company, as the bridge’s owner, to do everything it can to speed up repair work in order to reduce crossing delays,” said Marc Garneau in a statement. “Should action not be taken in a timely manner, I will not hesitate to take additional safety measures.”

After setting up the Zoneguard barriers, the bridge’s owner didn’t let the bridge issue slide. In a statement, company president Dan Stamper said he was still waiting for a “‘green light’ from Transport Canada to begin construction of the new Ambassador Bridge second span.”

[Image: Stephen Boyle/Flickr]

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38 Comments on “Drivers Are Now Less Likely to Plummet to Their Deaths from the Ambassador Bridge...”


  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    They should change the second word of the proposed bridge to Downie.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Let’s not get carried away.

      I like “Road Apples” more than most Americans, but Mr Hockey is beloved on both sides of the border.

      It’s been a bad year for Canadians named Gordie.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Apparently ;

    Driving safely is out of the question ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Unless they’re driving a Tesla on autopilot.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    as much as I think eminent domain should be used rarely and only in urgent need, Moroun needs to be institutionalized and the bridge should be taken over by the .gov. It’s too important to both countries to be entrusted to that senile old slumlord.

    and yes, that’s what he is. One of Detroit’s biggest problems is people like him who buy up properties and let them continue to rot.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Couldn’t agree more. I used to work on his S600. It’s owned by a company called CT rental car. I suggest people look them up, and harass them with calls asking to rent a vehicle. It makes you wonder, how many of these front corporations he has.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    How does a private person own a bridge, a international crossing at that?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      the Private Sector (TM) can do everything better. those chunks of concrete falling from Matty Moron’s Ambassador Bridge are a design feature. Just like the Michigan Central Station. Matty Maroon owns that too, and the only thing it’s been used for of any significance in the last 30 years is to be smashed up a bit inside for a couple of Transformers movies. He had to be compelled to replace the broken windows. The Morouns are SLUMLORDS. Period.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        If the governments on either side had not blocked him, the brand new bridge he wanted to build right next to it would already be open for business.

        Of course, the governments want a bridge monopoly of their own down river, but because the governments are so inefficient they aren’t even sure how everything will be laid out or funded yet. So for years to come a major international crossing will have to make due with a near 90 year old crumbling mess because of government cock blockage and ineptitude.

        • 0 avatar
          mr.cranky

          There’s no defending slumlords, especially when their properties endanger the lives of millions of passengers every year on both sides of the border.

          Private individuals have no business controlling critical infrastructure.

          • 0 avatar
            Whatnext

            I’m with you. Why would two countries leave such a crucial piece of infrastructure subject to the whims of a private individual? More than 1/4 of Canada-US trade flows over this bridge, if ever there was a crossing that should be in public hands, this is it.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I can’t blame Windsor/Ontario/Canada for not wanting all the international traffic to empty onto Huron Church. That probably isn’t the best place for a span. I also don’t give Matty Moroun the benefit of the doubt on any issue. Especially this one. If it was up to Matty, he’d have one span and truck traffic sitting in Delray and on Huron Church 24/7.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I don’t think so. His incentive is to keep traffic moving, or he loses more revenue to the tunnel. Everyone is against anything he wants to do because he’s a cranky old bastard, but the second span was the best short term solution. They shouldn’t have blocked it leaving the 87 year old mess as the only solution for at least a decade.

            Choosing to spite a cranky old bastard over the good of commerce and safety of travelers is poor decision making on the part of both governments.

            If they wanted then to add another crossing down river, great. The more the better.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “They shouldn’t have blocked it leaving the 87 year old mess as the only solution for at least a decade.”

            they blocked it because he let his property become an 87 year old crumbling mess. Matty Moroun lets his properties decay, and neither the U.S., Canada, or Michigan are going to let that demented slumlord hinder any further progress.

            cripes, are you Matt Moroun or something?

            ” or he loses more revenue to the tunnel. ”

            nonsense. all truck traffic (and all car traffic pulling trailers) has to go over the bridge, it can’t go through the tunnel. Morony Moron isn’t hurting for revenue, so I don’t understand why you’re here trying to carry his water.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Considering that he didn’t want the 96/75 project that bypassed the neighborhood to get on the bridge, I’d say that he was fine with the status quo.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Moroun obviously has his own bias, and reasons for not wanting the Snyder bridge to be built. However, people voting against the ballot measure that would make it necessary for Snyder to get approval from the people on a bridge was pure idiocy. We just spent over a billion dollars to better connect Manny’s bridge to the freeways. I would have supported calls to confiscate the bridge from Moroun for not keeping up on maintenance, more than financing the Snyder bridge. The big problem for traffic is the lack of customs agents at both crossings. If another span is built, these agents will just be spread around more.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “they blocked it because he let his property become an 87 year old crumbling mess.”

            Bridges have designed life spans, this one is well beyond it’s own.

            I don’t carry any water for Maroun. I just want more bridges, especially when I used to cross every day. He had a short term solution and it was blocked out of spite, and that was stupid.

        • 0 avatar
          Hydromatic

          Question:

          Exactly why would they want to squeeze Moroun out of a bridge? Profits? And do you really believe the guy wouldn’t just drag his feet for a few more years until the bridge deck suddenly let go, because the govts simply backed off and let him do as he pleased?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            If he lets the bridge just “suddenly go,” the resulting lawsuits would bankrupt him.

            besides, much of the ill will towards him isn’t so much the condition of the Ambassador Bridge, but his attitude that he’s entitled to own a second span.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “And do you really believe the guy wouldn’t just drag his feet for a few more years until the bridge deck suddenly let go, because the govts simply backed off and let him do as he pleased?”

            There are ramps on either side leading to a bridge that doesn’t exist solely because it was blocked. As I understand it, steel was cut. He was ready to go.

        • 0 avatar
          Smeeder

          The reason the bridge isn’t complete is because the Republican State Legislature has been carrying Maroun’s water on this for 10 years, consistently blocking the new bridge downriver by withholding funds. This has been going on since before Granholm left office. Had it not been for that, the new bridge would probably be up and running by now….

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Grand Rapids Republicans aren’t fond of things that are good for Metro Detroit.

          • 0 avatar
            NeilM

            “Grand Rapids Republicans aren’t fond of things that are good for Metro Detroit.”

            Possibly true, but the Michigan State Legislature is located in Lansing, the state capital.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “If the governments on either side had not blocked him, the brand new bridge he wanted to build right next to it would already be open for business.”

          A bit of time spent with a search engine will show that the City of Detroit has swapped land with Maroun in order to get his second span built.

          Meanwhile, Maroun has filed a series of lawsuits in order to halt the new bridge that would compete with him.

          Your version of the facts doesn’t match what is reported.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I went over the Ambassador for the first time in many years in March of this year. It was terrifying between the narrowness due to the construction, concrete barriers and a constant stream of trucks.

    Canada and the US need to get their act together and get a new bridge built ASAP. I wouldn’t be surprised if that bridge fell into the Detroit river with the condition it’s in.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      danio3834 thinks it’s fine, and its owner should be unshackled to build another one.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The bridge is not fine. That’s my point. He was ready to replace it and was blocked. Apparently you think the best solution is just one bridge well past it’s usable life, because that’s what they’ve got while waiting forever for both governments to accomplish their project. Heck yes they should have let him build it.

        Spite for a crotchety old man is getting in the way of logical solutions.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Spite for a crotchety old man is getting in the way of logical solutions.”

          his solution was not logical. The Ambassador Bridge dumps traffic right into city streets and residential neighborhoods, and creates hellacious traffic in Windsor especially when the volume of trucks is high. Moroun’s solution was to just put a new bridge right next to the old one. Plus the fact that he fought the “Gateway Project” which addressed the snarled traffic on the Detroit side shows he has only his own interests in mind. The Gordie Howe bridge is much more intelligently placed to link the Interstates in Detroit directly with the 401 in Ontario. Just like the Blue Water Bridge links I-69/I-94 to the 402. The Ambassador Bridge requires Canada-bound traffic to drive miles through the city to reach the 401.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      We lived at the entrance on the Canadian side of the Ambassador 55 years ago, and even then the bridge was inadequate for contemporary traffic volume. I can’t imagine how awful it must be now with still only two lanes. It must make the tunnel appear as a better alternative to cross the Detroit River.

  • avatar
    detlump

    I crossed earlier today and saw the new barriers. They look pretty substantial. The railing when new was designed for vehicles, especially trucks, that were smaller and lighter than today. Add 80 years of road salt spray and deferred maintenance and it’s a wonder that no vehicle has taken the plunge over. Not to mention that beneath the bridge and nearby are many University of Windsor students.

    The bridge inspection report that the Free Press I believe fought to be made public is interesting reading.

    Maybe I’ll take the tunnel back tomorrow!

  • avatar
    Alfie

    The bridge would be in better condition if it had been in either/both government’s hands.

    Hahaha, who am I kidding?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    There’s a private owner for a public bridge? Maybe the Canadian and American governments should both heavily fine that owner for negligence in letting the bridge fall to such an abysmal condition and either take full control of its maintenance and operation or flat shut it down and build a new bridge in a different place. From what I’m reading, the current owner has brought this on himself.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Wow – a real-life troll bridge.

  • avatar
    Yupa

    A rare opportunity for average drivers to do 0-60 in 2.8 seconds.

  • avatar

    Former Moroun employee here – spent a lot of time in the Principal’s office at the school in Warren, quite a few years back. And I have 2 observations:

    1. How the hell is Matty still alive? And why isn’t his son calling the shots by now? Matthew always struck me as a smart guy who hadn’t been completely corrupted by his father. Think Vader/Palpatine.

    2. The only motivation Matty has to do anything is if it brings him money or power. He gives zero f#cks about anything else. Not Detroit, not people, not anything.

    In this light, everything here makes sense.

  • avatar
    operagost

    Because the government doesn’t have the exclusive right to build roads or bridges?

    Tell me how a private person should NOT own one.

    Most roads were privately owned once, and any trip for more than a few miles was likely to run into a toll booth. People in the industrial era were understandably miffed by this, so state governments purchased these old turnpikes and made them public, toll-free roads.

    That didn’t last long before the government started bypassing these free roads with new highways and bridges that had tolls on them.

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