Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 26, 2009

MDOT's Fog

Here is the Bridge Company press release to that other MDOT lawsuit.

Hmmm, no mediation or arbitration even though the Bridge Company requested it. Did MDOT learn from Eddie or vice versa!

MDOT's Ambassador Bridge Lawsuit Fogs Facts

WARREN, Mich., June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Ambassador Bridge:

"The Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) lawsuit filed yesterday against the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) is surprising because we have been trying to resolve the many issues in dispute with MDOT for a long time. DIBC recently requested mediation and then submitted a formal demand to MDOT as provided for in the agreement with MDOT. MDOT did not even respond, but instead filed this lawsuit. MDOT has been fully aware of the traffic connectivity improvements we planned and constructed. To now charge otherwise, 15 years into the project, is literally unbelievable. The girders, cement, construction equipment and crews have been on site for years. As required by the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Agreement, we have met regularly with MDOT and kept them abreast of changes made to improve the project and border connectivity.

"MDOT's argument that any change to the Gateway Agreement could jeopardize $145 million in federal funds is without merit. MDOT's action instead, is meant to delay DIBC's building a privately funded $1 billion replacement span for the 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge -- a project that will immediately create more than 4,000 new jobs. A MDOT spokesman incredulously stated that MDOT would have accepted DIBC's construction changes if we simply asked them first. MDOT's motives are intended to harm DIBC's efforts to further invest in necessary border improvements as MDOT punishes international travelers and commerce.

"The only material change to the Gateway Project is that MDOT has joined another and competing partnership with Canada within the Ambassador Bridge corridor (DRIC). However wrong that is, it should not mean undermining the existing Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project. For MDOT, improving travel for the public and commerce should come first, just as it does with the Ambassador Bridge.

"Prior to MDOT joining the DRIC partnership with Canada, MDOT supported the Gateway Project and its improvements, supported street closings, and requested federal funding based on the following MDOT language from 1999:
  • 'Clearly, this is a high priority project with all the stakeholders ... MDOT, DIBC, SEMCOG, and the City of Detroit. The need for this [Gateway] project has precipitated unprecedented cooperation between local, state, federal, and private interest not seen in the last 25 years...DIBC is expected to become a full partner in the project construction with MDOT. Recent announcement for the $400 million construction of a second span of the Ambassador Bridge by DIBC, underscores the expected cooperation needed to make these projects whole. This is truly a public-private partnership.'

    -- MDOT application to USDOT for Gateway funding, 1999

"Today we contacted Governor Granholm to respectfully request her to instruct MDOT to remove the approximately ten thousand tons of construction waste that MDOT deliberately dumped on the West Grand Boulevard ramp (East Service Drive) of the Gateway Project, which stretches for almost a quarter mile; and also to remove the heavy equipment on the other inbound MDOT ramp. Both ramps have needlessly been rendered unusable by MDOT and are preventing passenger traffic and commerce from using the new roadways. Travelers and business should not be used as pawns here. The disputes between MDOT and DIBC will be adjudicated in the courts and through arbitration.

"We will continue to meet with MDOT to try and find solutions on all the open issues and move ahead together, as partners. We hope our goal at its foundation is aligned - build the best Gateway Project possible."