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Canada to Announce Bridge Deal With Michigan, Group Says

Canada and Michigan may be poised to announce a deal to build a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor as early as this week, according to a manufacturing lobby group.

“Ottawa and Michigan have reached a deal for the construction of a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, a popular trade route between the world’s two most integrated economies,” according to a statement from the Ottawa-based Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. It didn’t say how it obtained the information.

The Globe and Mail reported yesterday an accord has been reached between the Canadian government and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, declined to comment on the report. The new span would be about 2 miles south of the privately owned Ambassador Bridge, according to a Canadian government plan.

Geralyn Lasher, a spokeswoman for Snyder, a Republican who has been championing construction of a second span, declined to comment on the Globe and Mail story or any developments on the bridge issue. Talks continue, she said.

A deal would represent the latest step in a years-long fight pitting Canadian officials and Snyder against Michigan lawmakers and Manuel Moroun, the billionaire owner and operator of the existing Ambassador Bridge. Moroun been fighting the construction of a publicly financed competitor.

Busiest Crossing

The Windsor-Detroit crossing is the busiest in the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship, with more than C$130 billion ($127 billion) in shipments and 8,000 trucks crossing the border there each day, according to Canadian government data. Truck traffic is expected to triple over the next 30 years, the country’s transport department estimates.

The Canadian government expects Moroun’s company, Detroit International Bridge Co., to sue to stop it, the Globe and Mail said. The company is also behind a signature-gathering effort to put a referendum on the November ballot for a constitutional amendment requiring voter approval for such a project, the newspaper reported.

The company has said a public project would probably put it out of business. Moroun wants to build his own adjoining six-lane span and has lobbied lawmakers and funded television ads labeling the other proposal a boondoggle. Moroun bought the controlling interest in the bridge company in 1979, outbidding Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The four-lane Ambassador was completed in 1929 by banker Joseph Bower. At 7,490 feet, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, according to the bridge’s website. The crossing that carries one-quarter of the truck commerce between the U.S. and Canada and more than 7 million vehicles a year, according to the Public Border Operators Association.

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