WARREN, Mich., June 15, 2009 – In a surprise and unwarranted move, the U.S. Coast Guard today issued the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) with an abeyance letter to suspend the application process on the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project, a billion-dollar privately-funded effort that will add a replacement span to the 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. The Project will create nearly 4,000 jobs in the first year and more than 20,000 over the next two decades.
In a move that smacks of retribution for a federal lawsuit filed last month by a coalition of prominent Detroit community organizations and the DIBC complaining of environmental justice and other causes of action against the U.S. Department of Transportation, today’s Coast Guard action to stall the Bridge Project appears one-sided and misguided. The Coast Guard’s purported justification for the abeyance letter cites the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)’s belief that the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project has not been implemented according to the project’s preliminary design.
“While we are perplexed and disappointed by this action, we will take all the steps necessary to address the concerns expressed by the U.S. Coast Guard and keep this vital project moving. It’s obvious to us that this abeyance letter is nothing more than the government applying political pressure on the Coast Guard to delay construction of the replacement span of the Ambassador Bridge,” said Dan Stamper, President of the Detroit International Bridge Company. “Time and time again, MDOT has sought to confuse the issues and delay our project. We look forward to setting the record straight.”
The Ambassador Bridge’s portion of the Gateway Project, including the new plaza, was completed in January 2009 and started operating in April. MDOT, however, is still working on completing its part of the project; it has not opened even one ramp for international travel. The DIBC has sought to clarify MDOT’s misconceptions and factual inaccuracies for months. MDOT’s delay and the inability of DIBC and MDOT to resolve these issues, despite ongoing discussions, forced DIBC last month to file a demand for arbitration of any disputes between the parties. MDOT has still not responded.
Detroit International Bridge Company
The Detroit International Bridge Company owns the Ambassador Bridge, which stands as an international symbol and link between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. The Ambassador Bridge is the nation’s number one border crossing, handling 26 percent of trade between the US and Canada. Built in 1929 by private funds, the Ambassador Bridge was established with unique obligations and rights to meet the needs of commerce and trade by Canada, Great Britain and the United States. The Detroit International Bridge Company believes in the development and wellness of the local community and continues to support a variety of local organizations, charities and universities. www.ambassadorbridge.com