Bridge disputes claim that redecking project stalled

WINDSOR, Ont. – The Ambassador Bridge Co. is vehemently denying reports that it has not yet started a project to replace the main deck on the span, as recommended by a safety inspection report.

The Windsor Star reported this week that the repairs have not begun even though the bridge announced work would commence in July.

Phil Frame, a spokesperson for the private bridge, contacted (which posted a credited summary of the story) to say that the Star article is "completely false."

He denied that the $20 million re-decking project is on hold, as the paper claimed, and provided images showing that some sort of construction work on at least one lane is underway.

However, when asked for specifics of what exactly the current work on the bridge is, Frame declined to provide details.  

Road work over troubled water?
The bridge company insists a critical
redecking project is going smoothly.

"We don’t want to give a construction update and that’s kind of where we are right now," he said. "But it’s very obvious in the photos. You can see one of the lanes is closed and some milling of the pavement has taken place, and there are workers with safety vests and giant machines."

The images show equipment and crews at work from Walter Toebe Construction — the company contracted to complete the redecking project.

Though,  observers in in Windsor familiar with what the project entails question whether the work is anything more than ongoing maintenance. Sources suggest redecking is a massive, multi-crew undertaking that involves more than just repaving the road surface — requiring, among other things, the removal of deep steel supports underneath the deck.

We’re also told that the construction crew hasn’t been working on the bridge for several days.

Frame flatly dismissed those claims in a follow-up email message this morning:

"Of course, this is the very, very early stage in construction for a project that will take up to two years," he wrote.

"We can’t show you pictures of holes cut in the lane and the Detroit River flowing below, because that hasn’t happened yet. But anyone who cares to look can see the extensive false decking installed under the bridge in recent weeks to protect passing ships from falling debris.

"Of course, an observer could miss something if he doesn’t know what’s involved in redecking a major bridge that crosses over an international border, hundreds of feet over a major river, when safety has to be the top priority over speed."  

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