As The Bridge Burns

With all the latest soap opera going on over where and who will build the inevitable second bridge to Canada, the Detroit International Bridge Co. hasn’t made many friends. And whatever friends it still has in the dispute aren’t helping.

First, a lobbyist group upset residents of the Delray neighborhood where the proposed state-built bridge will be built by posting fake eviction notices on their doors. [Detroit Free Press]

Bearing the words “Eviction Notice” in large type, the bogus notices told homeowners their properties could be taken by the Michigan Department of Transportation to make way for the New International Trade Crossing bridge project. The NITC is the subject of debate in Lansing, and Americans for Prosperity is lobbying heavily against it.

Of course, residents weren’t amused. [The Detroit News]

Residents and a state legislator lambasted the circulars, saying they were a scare tactic by opponents of the bridge.

Dolores Toth, 81, who has heart problems, began to shake after reading the notice, said her son, Steve.

“How low can you go?” Steve Toth said. “This isn’t something you do, I don’t care who you are.”

State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, said the fake notices were an act of desperation by bridge foes.

“They’re trying to create chaos and confusion,” she said. “They’re scaring a lot of families that already have a lot of issues to deal with.”

The DIBC insisted it had nothing to do with it:

But Detroit International Bridge Co. President Dan Stamper said: “We would never distribute misleading information to disturb or upset residents.” DIBC owns the Ambassador Bridge and is the chief opponent of the proposed public/private bridge that would be built two miles downriver from the Ambassador.

Stamper said Monday his firm had nothing to do with the fake notices.

[The Detroit News]

That seems to be irrelevant. Anyone who has followed politics in the last 200 years knows that perception is reality. And in this case, it’s not helping that the lobbyist group seems to not care that it almost gave poor Delores Toth a heart attack so long as its message was clear. It probably would have helped the DIBC if the lobbyist group would do more than “refuse to say” if the company was involved.

Add to that the latest in the dispute between the DIBC and the Michigan Department of Transportation. When we last left this mess, a Wayne circuit judge had ordered the company to complete the Gateway Project freeway exits it was supposed to finish under its contract with the state. The judge, Prentis Edwards, failed Stamper for his company’s failure to comply with court orders.

Six months later, Edwards is apparently still not impressed:

In a June 2 letter from Edwards’ law clerk to all parties in the dispute, Edwards expressed concern that the bridge company still appears not to be complying with his February 2010 order to rebuild the approach ramps to the Ambassador Bridge as demanded by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“The Court has serious questions regarding whether DIBC will be able to satisfy the … deadline” of next January for completing the rebuilding of the so-called Gateway project, the letter said. “The reasons for the avoidance … are not clear. It does appear that further Court involvement is required …”

But, at least the Morouns haven’t given up their struggle to improve relations. Just today, they started removing the asbestos from the old Michigan Central Station. And they’re supposed to be putting in new windows…


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