Court orders Moroun to demolish duty-free store

| 2/8/2010

The billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge is not accustomed to taking orders, but he may have to bite the bullet on this one.

The Wayne County Circuit Court in Michigan has ordered owner Matty Moroun to demolish a duty-free store, gas pumps and possibly a new toll booth because Moroun built them on Detroit city land and in violation of an agreement to streamline the bridge crossing.

Moroun’s company, Detroit International Bridge Co., was supposed to build elevated ramps and other features as part of the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project, but chose not to follow the orders, according to The Windsor Star. Moroun even built a truck lane where it wasn’t supposed to go.

The Michigan Department of transportation took Moroun to court over the terms of the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project.

A court judge ruled that Moroun must put the ramps in the right place according to the Gateway design agreement, and that means the duty-free and the other structures would be in the way. The judge ordered the bridge company to appoint someone to oversee the demolition, The Star reported.

Moroun’s right-hand man and company president Dan Stamper was quoted as saying they have not yet decided whether to appeal and that the court dispute is “a tiny portion” of the Gateway project.

The Gateway project is supposed to make things easier at the bridge crossing, but the legal tie-ups and land disputes continue to bog it down. Meanwhile, Moroun is moving ahead with trying to build a twin span next to the Ambassador to handle more traffic. The city and state and authorities in Canada want the next bridge to be further away.

Approximately 10,000 commercial vehicles cross the Ambassador Bridge each day.

– By David Tanner, staff writer