Pier 19 erased from Gateway Project
Detroit — The controversial Pier 19, mockingly described as the “bridge to nowhere,” is no longer.
The Michigan Department of Transportation on Wednesday reported construction workers had removed the pier at the $230 million Gateway Project. It was built by the Detroit International Bridge Co. as the jumping off point for a future twin span to the Ambassador Bridge.
The massive pier, which fronts Fort Street, was never part of the original plans for the Gateway Project, a joint venture between MDOT and the DIBC to move truck traffic directly from the Ambassador Bridge to nearby Interstates 75 and 96.
MDOT has insisted for years that the pier be removed because it interfered with a proposed truck access road that would move traffic from the bridge to the freeways.
“Pier 19 is down, but we still have to remove four feet of pier below ground level and put in drainage before we can start to construct the dedicated truck road,” said MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi. “The road will take trucks inbound from Canada and move them to the recently completed S32 ramp, which will give the vehicles access to Interstates 75 and 96.
“The opening of the truck road will take up to 50 percent of the commercial traffic off the surface streets and straight to the freeways.”
MDOT has a target date of May 20 to complete the truck access road and intends to complete the entire Gateway Project by late October or early November.
After years of legal battles the matter finally came to a head on March 8 when Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards ceded complete control of the project to MDOT, removing DIBC from the project.
Meanwhile, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge are looking to put a proposal requiring voter approval for a new bridge or tunnel to Canada on November’s ballot.
Petition language has been sent to the State Board of Canvassers for approval, which could come Thursday. The bridge company has established a committee called The People Should Decide that will work on collecting signatures once petition language is approved.
The supporters would have to collect about 325,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.
The bridge company has been fighting efforts for years to build a publicly owned span across the Detroit River, instead trying to build a second span of its own. Gov. Rick Snyder supports the construction of a publicly-backed second bridge.