Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, USA


By 2020, a new international bridge will be built across the Detroit River “accelerating the flow of people, merchandise and services” [1] between the United States and Canada for years to come. Not everyone is as thrilled about this venture as the pioneers of the project, resulting in a somewhat rocky path to finalizing plans and beginning construction on the bridge.

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Basic Data
NameAmbassador Bridge in Detroit, USA
CountryUnited States of America
SiteDelray Neighborhood in Detroit
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAs many as 9,000 trucks pass through the U.S. terminal checkpoints each day.

Low population of about 2,500, down from 9,800 in the 1980s because of declining quality of life in the community.

More than 150 structures around neighborhood need to be boarded up, more than 170 lots are blighted with illegal dumping.

About 700 Delray residents will have to move to make way for the 170-acre customs plaza.
Level of Investment (in USD)3,000,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population700-2800
Start Date01/02/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesDetroit International Bridge Company from United States of America
Relevant government actorsOntario Ministry of Transportation, State of Michigan, Michigan Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Canadian government, Michigan Finance Authority, Transport Canada (who is responsible for transportation policies and programs. It promotes safe, secure, efficient and environmentally-responsible transportation. Transport Canada reports to Parliament and Canadians through the minister of Transport. It works with its portfolio partners, other government departments and jurisdictions, and industry to ensure that all parts of Canada's transportation system work well.)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLatin Americans for Social and Economic Development, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Citizens with Challenges, the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO), MANA de Metro Detroit, the Mexican Patriotic Committee of Detroit, Detroiters for Progress
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Potential: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesNo specific proposals suggested as alternative by EJO. Primary actor in fight against the new bridge is Moroun and his alternative is a newer private bridge to replace his Ambassador Bridge.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Delray community has lost the battle to have the bridge located elsewhere. With little political clout and few resources, they are and will be suffering the environmental, political and social burdens from this project.
Sources and Materials

[1] Gordie Howe International Bridge will be name of new Detroit-Windsor crossing - May 14, 2015
[click to view]

[2] Clearing the air: Environmental justice in Detroit - November 4, 2014
[click to view]

[3] New U.S.-Canada bridge will carve through one of Detroit’s loneliest neighborhoods - April 1, 2015
[click to view]

[4] Detroit-Windsor bridge plan: Seven years, six lanes and one 'mutually agreeable' name - April 12, 2013
[click to view]

[6] Ambassador Bridge owner, others announce lawsuit against Federal Highway Administration over proposed Detroit River International Crossing - May 14, 2009
[click to view]

[5] Gordie Howe International Bridge
[click to view]

[7] Leading Southwest Detroit Community Organizations and Detroit International Bridge Company Unite to Sue U.S. Department of Transportation Over Flawed Decision Making Process - May 14, 2009
[click to view]

[8] Detroit-Windsor bridge: State lawmaker, Moroun company file suits to block New International Trade Crossing - December 6, 2013
[click to view]

[9] Supreme Court turns down Moroun challenge to new bridge - February 23, 2015
[click to view]

[10] Snyder: By building bridge, Michigan is building 'future of economic strength and security' - June 15, 2012
[click to view]


Lawsuits against polluting companies in and around the Delray community
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LASED v. FHWA lawsuit filed 2012
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Moroun's company sues US leaders, Canada to stop competing span April 9, 2013
[click to view]

Media Links

Governor Rick Snyder explains the new bridge name
[click to view]

Other Documents

Sketch of New International Trade Crossing Prepared by Michigan Department of Transportation
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, [email protected] and [email protected]
Last update28/10/2015