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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
Name of conflict:Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Michigan
Location of conflict:Delray 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 commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

As many as 9,000 trucks pass through the U.S. terminal checkpoints each day.

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Level of Investment:3,000,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:700-2800
Start of the conflict:01/02/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Detroit International Bridge Company from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Ontario 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 organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Latin 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
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Creation 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-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of alternatives:No 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[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
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[4] Detroit-Windsor bridge plan: Seven years, six lanes and one 'mutually agreeable' name - April 12, 2013
[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
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[5] Gordie Howe International Bridge
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[6] Ambassador Bridge owner, others announce lawsuit against Federal Highway Administration over proposed Detroit River International Crossing - May 14, 2009
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Moroun's company sues US leaders, Canada to stop competing span April 9, 2013
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LASED v. FHWA lawsuit filed 2012
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Lawsuits against polluting companies in and around the Delray community
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Governor Rick Snyder explains the new bridge name
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Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, [email protected] and [email protected]
Last update28/10/2015
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