Judge takes ‘Gateway’ project away from Matty Moroun

Land Line

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor

A judge in Michigan has ordered Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun to give up control of the Gateway Project that will eventually link the bridge to major highways. The Michigan Department of Transportation is now in charge of completing the $230 million project that the bridge owner failed to get done despite previous court orders.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards directed Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co. to give up control of the project as part of a ruling issued Thursday, March 8.

Moroun, who also owns less-than-truckload carrier Central Transport International and holding company Universal Truckload Services, has always blamed local, state, county and federal governments on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border at Detroit-Windsor for standing in the way of the project’s completion.

The Gateway Project dates back to 1994 as a concept to improve traffic access to the bridge and take bridge traffic off city streets.

Moroun and various governments have squared off in recent years, as the bridge owner allegedly built toll plazas, a fueling station and other structures on land he did not own.

In February 2010, Judge Edwards ordered Moroun to remove the illegal structures and complete access ramps to Interstate 75 and I-96.

Nearly two years later, on Jan. 12, Edwards ordered Moroun and bridge company president Dan Stamper to jail on a contempt charge for failing to complete those tasks. Lawyers worked to free the pair the following day.

After gaining control of the project, the Michigan DOT wasted no time in announcing the next step.

According to a statement issued Tuesday, MDOT is pursuing private contractors and consultants to bring design-build concepts to the table to get the work done.

Moroun keeps control of the Ambassador Bridge, which sees more than 8,000 commercial truck crossings per day and is the only privately owned international border crossing in North America.