Ambassador Bridge owner faces legal troubles

by MM&D staff

DETROIT: The owner of the Ambassador Bridge is once again a free man–at least for now.

Eighty-four-year-old Manuel “Matty” Moroun, controls the Detroit International Bridge Co.

Dan Stamper is the company president.

Both men served one night in jail after a Wayne County, Michigan judge found them in contempt of civil court for failing to live up to the company’s obligations to complete contracted work on the bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario with Detroit, Michigan.

They had originally been ordered by the same judge to fulfill their contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) when they appeared before him in February 2010. Their failure to comply with the judge’s order is what caused Judge Prentis Edwards to issue his finding of contempt and sentence the men to stay in jail until the work was completed.

The pair appealed the sentence to the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court ordered them freed while they appealed the contempt ruling. They are expected to go to court on February 2 for that hearing.

The US$230-million Ambassador Bridge/Gateway Project (ABGP) is designed to improve the flow of traffic across the busiest border-crossing between Canada and the US. Even though the work was supposed to be done by the privately-held bridge company, the Michigan Department of Transportation calls it the “the largest project in MDOT history. It is a major economic development project area freeways to the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit’s Mexicantown neighbourhood.”

New ramps and roads were supposed to be built to connect the bridge directly to highways I-75 and I-96, thereby by-passing surface streets and easing traffic congestion in southwest Detroit.

Additionally, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Gateway Project was supposed to include:

  • construction of a new interchange for access to the bridge and to local roads
  • building a state-of-the-art pedestrian bridge across I-75 and I-96 connecting east and west Mexicantown in southwest Detroit
  • redesigning the Ambassador Bridge Plaza to improve safety and ease traffic flow

The project was originally scheduled to start in February 2008 and be completed by December 2009.

So far the work has not been done.