Manuel “Matty” Moroun died on Monday at 93 years old. That name might not mean much to you if you’re not from metro Detroit or Windsor, Canada, but around these parts, he was known mainly as the billionaire who owned, among other things, the Ambassador Bridge, which just happens to carry roughly 27 percent of all merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S.
General view of the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Windsor, Canada on March 18, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily restrict all nonessential travel across the border after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic
Image: Gregory Shamus (Getty Images)
That’s $400 billion in trade a year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation with an average of $500 million in trade crossing the bridge daily. It generated $60 million in tolls for Moroun, according to the Detroit Free Press. At least 40 percent of trucking shipments into the US cross this bridge and the closest secondary crossing for big rigs is over two hours away, Forbes reports.
Not only is it the busiest international crossing in North America, but it is also the only one to be privately owned. Does it seem to you like this span is too important a crossing to be in private ownership? Because it always has to me! It spent two years as the longest suspension bridge in the world. How do you just own something so massive and crucial to the functioning of two huge economies?
I have lived with this strange fact in this strange town all my life and, no matter how it has been explained to me, it still boggles my mind. So I’m going to try and explain it to you, and hopefully, we can figure it out together.
First, how the bridge itself came to be.