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Canadian-funded Windsor-Detroit bridge project wins U.S. courtroom battle

Vehicles on the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Canada and Detroit in the United Stateson March 18, 2013.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

An American court has rejected an attempt to block a major Canada-U.S. bridge project.

The Washington, D.C., District Court has denied a request for an injunction to halt a permit for the proposed Windsor-Detroit bridge.

The request came from the private company that owns the aging Ambassador Bridge, which handles nearly one-third of Canada-U.S. trade.

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That private company, owned by Detroit's Moroun family, says two national governments are conspiring against its own rival project to build a private bridge.

As it waits for its own permits, the company requested an injunction to block the U.S. Coast Guard from granting a key permit to the public bridge.

In an opinion released today, the court rejected that request — calling it preliminary, and concluding there's no proof the Coast Guard permit will cause irreparable harm to the Moroun family project.

The case is just one battle in the years-long dispute over a replacement for the Ambassador Bridge, pitting the Canadian government and U.S. allies against the Morouns' Detroit International Bridge Co.

The Canadian government is already funding the vast majority of the proposed New International Trade Crossing, and is waiting for the U.S. to fund a customs plaza on its own side.

The public bridge project cannot go ahead without that customs plaza, or the Coast Guard permit that the Morouns unsuccessfully tried to block.

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