By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
In Detroit, incoming truck traffic from Canada can now access interstate highways directly from the Ambassador Bridge without having to travel on neighborhood streets. Trucks began using the first two-lane truck road two months after a Michigan judge took control of the Gateway project away from Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun and gave it to the state DOT.
The Michigan Department of Transportation reported that the truck route opened five days early on May 15.
The approximately 8,000 commercial vehicles that cross the Ambassador each day were the first to benefit, as they can now bypass city streets on their way to Interstate 75 and I-96/I-94.
Moroun, the billionaire whose holdings include trucking companies, lost control of the $230 million project earlier this year when he failed to meet court-ordered deadlines dating back to 2010.
In February 2010, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards ordered Moroun to remove a portion of the toll plaza including a duty-free store and fueling station from property the billionaire did not own. A later order gave Moroun an ultimatum to make progress on the Gateway project or risk being held in contempt.
By Jan. 12 of this year, Judge Edwards had had enough. He ordered Moroun and Ambassador Bridge Company president Dan Stamper to spend a night in jail for contempt. Then, in March, Judge Edwards awarded control of the Gateway project to the state DOT.
According to an MDOT press release, Moroun deposited $16 million into the Gateway construction account as part of the judge’s order. MDOT hopes to have the entire access project done by October.