Ambassador Bridge company president says they'll comply with court order

June 21, 2011

Ambassador Bridge company president Dan Stamper told us they intend to fully comply with a court order on completing the Gateway project in conformity with a Judge's order and he's confident they'll meet the deadline of January 2012. Stamper said he was speaking out via the press because of what he said was an inaccurate impression the company was defying the court.

We asked him in a telephone interview about Michigan state attorney's statement in the last court hearing that the company had "no intention" of complying with the court orders.

He responded: "Lawyers made statements like that..." His voice trailed off.

He told us the bridge company has never wanted confrontation but they and the state DOT had disagreements over the contract and this led to delays. The state had blocked some bridge company construction making it impossible to proceed with some connections between the bridge plaza and the interstates.

The bridge company accepted it needed to move some toll booths, he said and there is a possibility some fuel pumps may need to be moved too. But he said there is no need to move a duty free store as reported by some.

Stamper said the bridge company was moving ahead with building two overpass bridges as ordered by the court, and would convey land to Michigan DOT to help it do work on a ramp that has been stalled (see aerial photo from Stamper nearby.)

The company issued a generally conciliatory press release today. It started off saying flatly that the company "is moving forward to complete its work on the Gateway Project with compliance of the court order."

They disagreed with Michigan DOT "on some aspects of the design plans" the statement said but "will work through design and construction issues with the court monitor and MDOT to complete construction by January 2012 as ordered by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards."

The company's attorney Reginald Turner would "help guide the (bridge company) through the completion of the Gateway Project."

Stamper was quoted: "If we run into problems Mr Turner will meet with the MDOT attorneys, the court monitor, Judge Edwards, or anyone else he deems necessary to keep construction on schedule."

The announcement said the specifics of the bridge company's move includes

- the SO-2 bridge alongside Fort Street - the connection of the inbound truck traffic to the interstates which it called "the most significant element of the court order

 - conveying company land to MDOT that will allow MDOT to move forward with the associated S-32 bridge also needed for the interstates connection (see aerial photo nearby)

- relocation of the current outbound toll booths as ordered by the court

The announcement continued:

"(the bridge company) is confident it will complete construction prior to the court ordered date."

"There has been conflicting testimony by MDOT to the Court which has led to discrepancies in the design process for the project.  Despite this, DIBC is and always has been committed to moving forward to completion of the Gateway Project.  

Conflict continues

But the statement ended with a hit at the state DOT:

"MDOT completed new ramps from the freeway in May 2009, yet it refuses to open those ramps while blaming DIBC for the truck traffic that travels through the community.  It is time that MDOT opens those ramps and fulfills the promise of direct access to the Ambassador Bridge."

The Detroit Free Press quotes a senior Michigan DOT engineer Tony Kratofil as skeptical, saying: "Actions speak louder than words, and with the Ambassador Bridge and the Morouns, it is clear that to date their actions have not lived up to their verbal announcements and written commitments to the people of the State of Michigan. (Only) time will tell whether they do so in the future."

Proposes link to Parkway

We asked Stamper how the bridge company proposed to satisfy Canadian demands that heavy trucks be taken off Huron Church Road, a main street of Windsor. Some 18 sets of traffic signals have to be negotiated by trucks between the bridge plaza and the H401 expressway to Toronto and Montreal.

He said a short extension is needed to the Windsor Essex Parkway, adding that the government of Canada is spending over $2 billion but says it is planning to end the parkway two kilometers short of the bridge plaza "at a point where there's no bridge."

The Parkway so far is planned only to service the proposed new DRIC/NITC bridge just downstream of the Ambassador.

TOLLROADSnews 2011-06-21 AERIAL PIC ADDED 2011-06-22 11:00

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