Bridge Co. files lawsuit to keep safety records private

WINDSOR, Ont. — The owner of the Ambassador Bridge is suing to stop a Michigan congressman from releasing the private bridge’s safety records to the public.

According to the Windsor Star and other local media, the bridge company claimed in its lawsuit that inspection reports released by Rep. John Dingell threatens security and violates a confidentiality agreement the bridge signed with the Michigan Department of Transportation before it allowed the inspection to take place.

The inspection was ordered by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration in 2007 before it would approve construction of the $230-million Gateway project in Detroit, which includes a larger, redesigned entrance plaza and better freeway access to the bridge.

Dingell said that the thousands of drivers and truckers that use the Ambassador should know what condition it’s in.

The Star reports that the safety report points to a need for the replacement of the bridge’s road deck — a massive undertaking that could force closure of the bridge. (The bridge, incidentally, continues to forge ahead with plans to build a twin span next to the Ambassador, but that project still faces government approvals and won’t be completed for years). 

"You can look up the safety rating of a car before you buy it, you can look up the structural deficiency of a public bridge before you drive across it, yet the Ambassador Bridge does not have to play by the same rules," Dingell said in a statement released to the newspaper.

Owner Matty Moroun has full autonomy over the bridge and its operations. Legally, he can restrict federal inspectors and even law enforcement from the property. 

He reportedly hires his own third-party consultant to inspect the bridge annually and turns over the report to federal authorities.

In Canada, the International Bridge and Tunnels Act was passed earlier this year, which for the first time gives public officials the right to inspect the bridge on the Canadian side. 

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