A Wayne County judge in Detroit on Thursday ordered the Michigan Department of Transportation to take over and complete a project to link two interstate highways with the Ambassador Bridge.
District Judge Prentis Edwards said a construction committee set up by the Detroit International Bridge Co. to oversee completion of its share of the $230 million Gateway Project had not made sufficient progress in the past month.
The project has been at the center of a four-year legal battle between bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, and the state. MDOT said DIBC had not carried out its share of the contract, and made changes without the department’s approval.
The project is intended to route truck traffic on an elevated roadway, taking some 10,000 trucks a day off city streets. The bridge is the busiest international crossing on the U.S.-Canada border.
The dispute came to a head in January, when Edwards jailed Moroun and DIBC President Dan Stamper for contempt, charging they had flagrantly ignored the court’s orders. The two spent about 30 hours before release on appeal. The Michigan Court of Appeals turned down their request to overturn the contempt citation, and on Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court said it would not hear the case.
After the appeals ruling last month, the bridge company agreed to turn construction management over to a private-sector committee. Attorneys for the company argued the committee had received approval from MDOT for some construction, but Edwards said DIBC had not shown that it was complying with his order to complete the project.