Ambassador Co. fires back at US Coast Guard

WARREN, Mich. — Calling it a move that "smacks of retribution" for a federal lawsuit filed last month, the Detroit International Bridge Company blasted the U.S. Coast Guard for ordering that construction be halted on work to twin the Ambassador Bridge.

As reported earlier this week, the U.S. Coast Guard issued the Ambassador owners an abeyance letter to suspend the application process on the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project.

In a response issued today, the bridge company called the move a "surprise" and "unwarranted." It claims that the letter "is nothing more than the government applying political pressure on the Coast Guard" to delay construction of the twin span because of a lawsuit headed the bridge company against the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The DIBC is suing the DOT over its plans with Canadian governments to build a separate, public bridge crossing a few kilometers downriver. The private bridge contends, curiously, that the competing span would "devastate" the impoverished Detroit suburb of Delray.

"The Coast Guard action to stall the bridge project appears one-sided and misguided," said DIBC President Dan Stamper, who assures that the expansion project won’t be scuttled. "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.

"We look forward to setting the record straight."

Meanwhile, the DIBC complains that while it completed its share of the work for new customs plazas on the U.S. side, the Michigan DOT is stalling on its part of the project.

"It has not opened even one ramp for international travel," it says.

"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."

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