Jan 10, 2011

Ambassador Bridge company president jailed for contempt

Karma ruled the day in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards when Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) – that owns and operates the Ambassador Bridge - President Dan Stamper was led off to jail Monday in handcuffs for contempt of court.

The jailing, according to the Detroit Free Press, “came as Edwards issued a contempt ruling against the bridge company for failing to comply with his Feb. 1, 2010, order to rebuild the approaches to the Ambassador Bridge as the Michigan Department of Transportation requires as part of the $230-million Gateway project.”

The Gateway Project addresses the long term congestion mitigation issues and provide direct access improvements between the Ambassador Bridge, I-75 and I-96. The project will also reconstruct I-96 and I-75, accommodate traffic for a potential future second span of the Ambassador Bridge, and access to the Mexicantown International Welcome Center. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was concerned that the bridge company was dragging their feet on the Gateway Project to endangering the project to kill the planned and needed Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) between Detroit and Windsor about a mile from the Ambassador Bridge.

Last February Judge Edwards ordered the bridge company to tear down the illegally constructed gas pumps and duty-free store built on property owned by the city of Detroit, and that the bridge company had to appoint an overseer to proceed with the removal of the structures, which include a duty free shop, refueling stations and toll booths. Edwards later slapped a show cause hearing against the Bridge Company when it failed to meet his deadline, but the hearing was postponed when the Bridge Company took its appeal to the Supreme Court. In May the state Supreme Court rejected the appeal.

The bridge company tried but failed to transfer the case to federal court instead of complying immediately with Edwards' order, leading to the contempt charge. The Free Press also reported Edwards fined the bridge company $7,500 and ordered the company to begin complying immediately with his order to rebuild the approaches as MDOT requires.

“After a brief conference in chambers with Judge Edwards, both sides indicated they expected the judge would free Stamper possibly as early as later today as soon as the bridge company shows some evidence of complying with his order to start rebuilding the plaza.”

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