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Bridge owners cite progress on construction project; hearing set for Thursday

The Detroit International Bridge Company says it’s moving forward on a long-disputed construction project.

Godfrey Dillard and other DIBC lawyers will try to convince Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards they're making progress in a hearing Thursday.

Edwards found DIBC President Dan Stamper and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun in contempt of court for ignoring his orders. He had ordered them to finish the Gateway Project, a disputed joint construction project with the Michigan Department of Transportation, according to initial plans.

The DIBC argued the ruling for nearly two years (the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear their final appeal Wednesday). But after the judge sent Moroun and Stamper to jail briefly, they agreed to comply.

Dillard says the committee DIBC appointed to oversee the reconstruction process has shown the “substantial and material progress” the judge demanded.

“We do not want to follow the patterns that we’ve had in the past," Dillard told reporters Wednesday. "We want to follow the terms and conditions of the contract. It’s a commitment of the DIBC leadership that it happens, and we are very optimistic.”

Dillard says little deconstruction has happened so far, but M-DOT has preliminarily approved DIBC's new construction plans. He says with swift M-DOT approvals, they can finish the long-delayed project by September or earlier.

But state officials, including Attorney General Bill Schuette, aren't so sure. From the Detroit Free Press:

But in a new court filing Wednesday, Schuette cited a "lack of a sense of urgency" on the bridge's company's part toward completing Gateway. Specifically, Schuette noted that the company still has not removed the controversial Pier 19, a new ramp built by the bridge company that one day could become part of a new bridge to Canada. Schuette asked Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards to order that the bridge company remove Pier 19 by March 19.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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