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Owner of Detroit-Canada bridge ordered to jail

Associated Press Modified: January 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm •  Published: January 12, 2012

Detroit International Bridge Co. was declared in contempt of court in November for failing to finish work on the project linking the U.S.-Canada span with two Detroit interstates.

The state of Michigan sued the company after it failed to meet a 2008 deadline to finish its part of a $230 million project to improve traffic at the bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. The company claims the Department of Transportation repeatedly has changed construction plans and been obstructive, allegations the state denies.

Gregory Johnson, MDOT chief of operations, said it could take a year to get the work done.

"We take no joy or satisfaction in seeing these gentlemen incarcerated," Johnson said. "Our only goal is to see this contract, this project, completed."

The hearing began with lawyers for Moroun insisting he is not the real owner. They say a Moroun trust has a minority stake in a holding company that owns the bridge. But state officials say Moroun clearly is in charge, and the judge agreed.

"Mr. Moroun has the power, the authority to make sure there is compliance" with court orders, Edwards said.

After a November hearing, state engineer Tony Kratofil said the bridge company has done only "superficial" work to follow the judge's previous orders. Without the improvements, he said, trucks are stuck using neighborhood roads.

Kratofil said Thursday there's still a lack of progress on the project. The judge said he considered appointing a receiver or contractor to oversee the project but determined it would only lead to more delays and litigation.

An activist in the residential neighborhood near the bridge complimented Edwards.

"This is a win for the people," Scott Brines said. "This is not about people going to jail. It's about bringing a solution to get trucks off of our neighborhood streets, as the Gateway development was intended to do."