Transportation
2:17 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Detroit International Bridge Company found in contempt of court

A Judge has found the company that owns the Ambassador Bridge in contempt of court.

Update 2:17 p.m.

Here's an update from the Associated Press with reaction from the Ambassador Bridge owners:

DETROIT (AP) - The company that owns the Ambassador Bridge says a judge is wrong to find it in contempt for failing to finish work on a project linking the U.S.-Canada span with two Detroit interstates.

Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards will wait until Jan. 12 to order a penalty, but he wants bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Maroun at that hearing.

Detroit International Bridge Company says piers have been properly built and more work will be completed by January. It says it will appeal the judge's contempt order announced Thursday.

The state of Michigan sued the company after it failed to meet a deadline to finish its part of a $230 million project to improve traffic at the bridge linking Detroit and Ontario.

12:00 p.m.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards says the Detroit International Bridge Company is “not complying and does not intend to comply” with a 2010 court order that directed them to make construction changes to the Gateway Project at the entrance of the American side of the bridge.

"The DIBC's conduct has served to impede the implementation of the Order of this Court and impair the authority of the Court," Edwards wrote in his opinion.

The Gateway Project is a long-delayed, $230 million joint project with the Michigan Department of Transportation, meant to better connect the bridge with surrounding highways.

M-DOT engineer Tony Kratofil says the state is pleased by the Judge’s decision.

“Clearly he sees the same things we see, that they have not been working actively to comply with his order and to complete the project in accordance with the agreement--the contractual agreement that they signed with us," Kratofil says.

“This is another step in the process of trying to get this project completed," Kratofil adds. "That’s really our objective here."

DIBC officials declined to comment after the ruling. In the past, they've insisted they are working to comply with the court order, and say Judge Edwards' doesn't fully understand the construction plans.

Judge Edwards ordered Bridge Company officials and its owner, Matty Moroun, to be in court in January for a sanctions hearing.

Those sanctions could include jail time; appointing a receiver to oversee the Bridge Company’s component of the project; and/or financial penalties.

Update 10:03 a.m.

The Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) has been found in contempt of court for refusing to comply with a February 2010 court order. The court ordered the company to make changes to construction of the Gateway Project.

The Gateway Project is a joint Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and DIBC project to better connect the Ambassador Bridge with surrounding highways.

The two sides have a dispute over the plans.

Judge Prentis Edwards ordered the DIBC (including bridge owner Matty Moroun) back to court for hearing in January to decide sanctions, which could include appointing a receiver to take over and finish the bridge's portion of the project, or jail time for DIBC officials and/or Moroun.

9:56 a.m.

The Detroit International Bridge Company has been found in contempt of court over a dispute regarding new construction around the bridge with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

We'll have more from Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek shortly.

Here's a little background on this case from Toll Roads News:

The Gateway project is intended to modernize connections between the Ambassador Bridge on the US side of the international river and interstates 75 and 96 with higher speed direct connector ramps and provision of more space for US customs and homeland security to expedite their clearance of people and cargoes coming in from Canada.  The $230m project was split between MDOT and the bridge company (DIBC). Construction  began early 2008.

There was soon disagreement between the two as to how the separate pieces fit together and some of the ramps are still not connected.