Ambassador Bridge: Judge could rule today in ramp lawsuit

BY MATT HELMS
DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

A ruling on whether Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun’s company is complying with court orders to finish key connections between the border crossing and recently rebuilt freeways could come as early as today.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards will hear closing arguments this morning from lawyers for the state and for the Detroit International Bridge Co., after several days of testimony. Edwards denied a request Tuesday by bridge company lawyers to delay the hearing.

The Michigan Department of Transportation says the bridge company has defied Edwards’ order to rebuild portions of the project that MDOT says violated agreements with the company to reconstruct I-75 and I-96 and roadways connecting the expressways to the bridge in southwest Detroit.

Edwards, who in January briefly jailed the bridge company’s president, Dan Stamper, for contempt, indicated in court this week that he’s leery of delays more than 18 months after he ordered the company to rebuild ramps and other segments of the $230-million Gateway Project. The company has lost several state and federal appeals in the case.

The freeway overhaul wrapped up in 2009, after a 17-month shutdown of I-75, but ramps to the bridge remain unfinished or unusable, MDOT says.

The bridge company contends MDOT’s conflicting design plans have made it impossible for the company to know what to build to comply with court orders.

The bridge company said it intends to meet Edwards’ deadline to complete the work in January, but an MDOT consultant said that he sees no way that can happen given the amount of unfinished work.