Reporting Ron Dewey
DETROIT (WWJ) – Two weeks after surrendering control of the Gateway Project to the Michigan Department of Transportation under court order, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge will appeal to get it back.
Wayne County Judge Prentiss Edwards ordered the Detroit International Bridge Company to turn the project over to MDOT with $16 million to finish the work.
But after having a stay of the order denied Thursday morning, the DIBC said it will file an emergency appeal with the State Court of Appeals to stop
the project’s transfer.
Bridge Company attorney Godfrey Dillard said the original contempt order said nothing about turning control of a privately owned project to a government agency.
“Takeover seems to be in the air by the state these days,” said Dillard. “We plan to appeal the court’s March 8th order. We plan to move forward with that expeditiously with the idea that we feel that the law will ultimately support us.”
Bridge Company officials said they had been making progress on their share of the $230 million project, pledging to complete the work. The project, in southwest Detroit near the bridge, is aimed at moving truck traffic directly onto interstates and off of neighborhood roads.
Regardless of the legal maneuvers, MDOT district engineer Tony Kratofil said the work will continue to open the truck route from the freeways to the Ambassador Bridge by May 15.
“It would be our goal, if we don’t have any stays or anything else, to be able to open the truck road at that same time and be able to get trucks off of Fort Street and Rosa Parks and all the local streets,” Kratofil said.
In January, 84-year-old billionaire bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun and Bridge Company President Dan Stamper found themselves behind bars for contempt of court for failing to follow orders on the project.
The two were released by the Michigan Appeals Court and no longer face the possibility of jail time.