Drivers

Coast Guard Puts the Brakes on Ambassador Bridge Project

March 03, 2010

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The Detroit International Bridge Company's $1 billion plan to build a second span of the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Canada has been halted.
The current Ambassador Bridge, which is 80 years old, is the busiest border crossing in North America, handling 1.6 million truck crossings each year.
The current Ambassador Bridge, which is 80 years old, is the busiest border crossing in North America, handling 1.6 million truck crossings each year.
According to a letter from the U.S. Coast Guard, the DIBC's permit application to build the bridge has been terminated because the company has not obtained the necessary property rights.

"The Coast Guard has received no credible indication that the property rights issue is any closer to being resolved now than it was over three years ago," wrote Hala Elgaaly, bridge program administration for the Coast Guard. "If DIBC wishes to resubmit the application at some future date, the resubmission should demonstrate that sufficient legal authority to build the proposed bridge exists, which includes definitive proof of resolution of the property rights issue."

In June 2009, the Coast Guard put the project's work into abeyance, including the processing of the permit application. The Coast Guard's letter says that despite meetings between the DIBC and the Coast Guard, there has been no movement on the property rights issue.

The 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which is privately owned, is the busiest border crossing in North America, handling 1.6 million truck crossings each year and more than 10 times that number in total traffic.

A second Canada-Detroit bridge project may be closer to being finished than the second Ambassador Bridge, according to recent study by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Today's Trucking reports that the study found the need for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), which would accommodate traffic needs. The study also found that the bridge would not prevent other international crossings from doing good business, unlike the Ambassador Bridge, Today's Trucking reports.

In a July 2009 report sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber, the plans for both Detroit bridges were challenged, citing significant decreases in hauling in this area related to the auto industry fallout.

The Detroit Free Press has posted a copy of the Coast Guard's letter to DIBC's President Dan Stamper on its web site.

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