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Ambassador Bridge owner launches $3.5 billion NAFTA challenge

The Windsor Star reports that, “Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun… is seeking US$3.5 billion from the Canadian government… (because) Moroun says the Canadian government violated the North American Free Trade Agreement with its proposal known as DRIC (Detroit River International Crossing) — a plan to construct a $1.6-billion Windsor-Essex border parkway that links Highway 401 to a new downriver bridge.”

The four-lane bridge Ambassador Bridge carries more than 10,000 trucks on a typical weekday and more than 25 per cent of all merchandise trade between the United States and Canada crosses this bridge.

Along with the expectation of increased cross-border traffic, it has been estimated that the DRIC bridge would divert about 75 per cent of truck traffic and nearly 40 per cent of car traffic from the Ambassador Bridge.

“(Moroun’s) legal documents indicate Canada stands to be the greatest beneficiary under the plan since DRIC features investment by the Canadian government and likely other private Canadian business interests. That arrangement discriminates against American investors — largely Moroun and his bridge company, the claim says. ‘Canada has arbitrarily undermined the claimant’s investments by steering away traffic.'”

That said, Moroun also names U.S. officials in the NAFTA challenge, though compensation is sought from Canada. On March 24, the Windsor Star reported that the Obama administration was also backing the DRIC bridge. That’s at http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Obama+supports+DRIC+bridge/2718404/story.html.

“Moroun could also push for a freeze on government actions that impact his business — such as building the DRIC bridge.”

An earlier Windsor Star report notes, “It was unknown what impact Moroun’s lawsuit will have on plans under DRIC for the $1.6-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway — a six-lane below-grade freeway to be built as a new border feeder route in the Huron Church Road-Talbot Road corridor. The provincial government is leading construction for the project.”

Today’s news report is at http://www.windsorstar.com/mobile/story.html?id=2764217. A more detailed news report from March 25 is at http://www.windsorstar.com/business/Bridge+suit+targets+feds+officials/2723280/story.html.