by Curt Guyette
The ruling by Judge Prentis Edwards appears to be a turning point in a case that began in June 2009, when the Michigan Department of Transportation filed a lawsuit claiming the bridge company had not fulfilled its contractual obligation to perform specific work associated with the $230 million project to improve freeway access to the privately owned Ambassador Bridge.
As part of his ruling, Edwards ordered bridge company President Dan Stamper and company owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun to appear in court on Jan. 12, 2012.
Stamper was briefly jailed earlier this year when Judge Edwards first found the company in contempt.
Next on the docket is a December hearing to determine how a project that was intended to be completed in April 2008 will finally get done. One of the options would be to appoint a receiver to oversee construction of the bridge company’s share of the project.
The bridge company recently performed some of the work required to comply with original construction plans, removing fueling pumps and a canopy that prevented the project from being completed as designed.
However, following the hearing, Tony Kratofil, engineer for MDOT’s metro region, said that work has been largely superficial.
“It is like taking the faucets off a sink when you have been told to tear down the whole house,” he said.
One of the unilateral changes made by the bridge company was the construction of an approach ramp to the as-yet unapproved new bridge it wants to build next to the Ambassador. That ramp interferes with construction of a dedicated truck route intended to keep commercial bridge traffic off of surface streets in the southwest Detroit neighborhood where the company’s sprawling truck plaza and duty free shop are located.
Company officials had no comment following the ruling by Edwards.