Judge strips power from Ambassador Bridge owners in construction dispute

Mar 8, 2012

A judge has stripped the company that owns the Ambassador Bridge of control over a key construction project, and transferred total control to the project’s joint partner, the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Judge Prentis Edwards had found Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) officials in contempt of court for delaying the Gateway Project.

That construction project to better connect the Ambassador Bridge and surrounding highways has been held up for years by legal wrangling.

Edwards’ had briefly jailed bridge owner Matty Moroun and DIBC President Dan Stamper for contempt.

But his latest decision to hand total control over to M-DOT seems to have taken both sides by surprise.

Godfrey Dillard, a lawyer for the DIBC, says it’s too soon to say how they’ll deal with this latest twist—and the judge’s order that the Bridge Company pay $16 million in construction costs upfront.

“Well, we’ll have to look at it,” Dillard said. “Needless to say, we’re not happy.”

M-DOT engineer Tony Kratofil says this wasn’t exactly what the state was looking for. even with total control over the project, they still need substantial cooperation from the Bridge Company to move forward.

“We’re still going to have to coordinate with them, because they have to operate the bridge plaza and the border crossing,” Kratofil said. “So we’re going to need their full cooperation throughout the process.”

Edwards set another hearing for March 22.