Strines buy 'troit tubes
By Peter Samuel
A fund associated with the Australian-based tollster Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) has bought the equity in the US side of the Detroit-Windsor toll tunnel from Hyde Park Holdings (HPH) of New York City in a private transaction that occurred in January but has not yet been officially announced. HPH would only confirm it sold its equity but said it was up to the purchaser to release any further information. Macquarie is not saying anything, yet.
Hyde Park Holdings the private company of New York investor Lawrence S. Levy bought out the Detroit & Windsor Tunnel Corp a publicly listed company in 1997 for $36m and pumped considerable capital into upgrades of the tunnels electrical systems, lining and pumps. HPH also spent money in placement of protective rip-rap in the riverbed over the roof of the tunnel. There were fears an errant ships anchor might damage the tunnel. Ventilation fans and other systems still have to be modernized in the tunnel which links downtown Detroit to Windsor Ontario, its sister city on the Canadian bank of the Detroit River. Built in the early 1920s it was one of the first immersed tube tunnels, and is contemporaneous with the Hudson River Holland Tunnel (which was mined.) It competes with the Ambassador toll bridge just a few blocks downstream, another investor-owned toll facility. Both connect to local streets and to I-375/I-75 on the US side and to the big H-401 expressway on the Canad side. There are about 20 years remaining on the city toll concession being bought by the Australians.
No word on the price paid HPH but it is almost certainly several times the amount Levy paid in 1997, given the upgrades and solid traffic and revenues.
Macquaries north American operations are mainly involved with electric power, and natural gas, but they are looking out for toll investments to complement those they own in Europe and Australia. Levy says the Detroit tunnel had been a good investment and he too is looking to buy some other toll properties in the US. (Levy is at email@example.com)