Ambassador Bridge President Jailed

Ambassador Bridge President Jailed

Dan Stamper, president of the company that owns the Ambassador Bridge, was jailed Monday on contempt charges by a Wayne County (Detroit) judge.

The court action comes at the end of a year-long legal dispute between the Detroit International Bridge Co. and the Michigan Department of Transportation over contract terms for the Gateway Project, a new approach to the bridge from Interstate 75 in southwestern Detroit.

Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards on Monday cited the company for contempt and levied a $7,500 fine plus court costs. On Feb. 1, 2010, Edwards issued an order that the company rebuild approaches to the bridge, as set out in the terms of its contract with MDOT. DIBC appealed the decision all the way to the state supreme court.

Ambassador Bridge news from JOC:
U.S. Coast Guard Halts Ambassador Bridge Project.

The MDOT contract called for an above street-level approach between I-75 and the bridge. DIBC cited alleged flexibility in the contract that allowed it to divert bridge traffic through a ground-level toll plaza and fuel facility before approaching the bridge.

The toll plaza and fuel pumps were built on land that DIBC had illegally taken from the city of Detroit. There is a separate court order to demolish them.

According to the court order, Stamper will remain at the Wayne County Jail until DIBC pays the fine and drafts a timetable for the demolition of the structures within one year, and reconstruction of the Gateway Project bridge approaches.

DIBC is owned by billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who also owns CenTra, the parent of several LTL and truckload carriers, plus related logistics firms.

Moroun has been at the center of a battle to build a public bridge across the Detroit River. The Detroit River International Crossing would be two miles downriver from the Ambassador site, where Muroun proposes a privately-owned twin span to the 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge.

DRIC has strong support within the state and Canada, but the project has not been approved by the Republican-controlled state senate. Moroun and his family have allegedly spent millions in campaign contributions to block a vote in the senate.

-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.