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MDOT releases Q&A about Gateway Project statement

Contact: Jeff Cranson, Director of Communications, 517-335-3084
Agency: Transportation

January 26, 2012 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) today released a statement in question and answer format regarding the Gateway Project in Detroit.

Q. Yesterday, MDOT announced that the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) conveyed the land needed for an elevated ramp to allow trucks coming from Canada to exit the Ambassador Bridge and enter Michigan freeways without clogging neighborhood streets last month. The DIBC is asserting it did so in 2007. Which is correct?
A. The DIBC did not convey the property until Dec. 14, 2011. In 2007, it gave the state what is called "the right of entry." However, that right of entry never became effective, as the DIBC failed to complete the construction of the dedicated public road necessary to connect the freeway to the bridge. Thus, MDOT had no legal right to enter the property and construct the last pier for S32. Doing so would have been trespassing.

Q. In previous statements, MDOT asserted the property had not been transferred, yet MDOT said yesterday that the property was transferred last month. Which is correct?
A. Despite agreeing to convey the property in the form of a highway easement to MDOT back in 2007, DIBC did not convey the property to MDOT's legal counsel until Dec. 14, 2011, when DIBC finally executed the easement and forwarded it to MDOT for review and verification. It was only verified this week. Moreover, DIBC had not yet transferred all the parcels it originally had agreed to convey to MDOT. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) previously held that the department needed to receive all of the parcels before proceeding with building the ramp. FHWA is now allowing the department to proceed, knowing that MDOT is still working through the legal process to obtain the other parcels needed to complete the Gateway Project.

Q. When will MDOT begin work on the ramp?
A. Work will begin as soon as a contract is in place. MDOT is doing everything possible to expedite that process. This will likely take several weeks.

Q. DIBC has offered to finish the ramp at its own expense. Will you take the bridge company up on its offer?
A. MDOT will build the ramp in compliance with the terms of its Gateway Project contract with the DIBC.

Q. When the ramp is finished, will MDOT simultaneously open the freeway ramps leading to the bridge plaza?
A. No. Those are separate ramps. DIBC still has not completed its work on the plaza, notably providing a dedicated public road for traffic. Until this is done, those ramps leading to the bridge must remain closed. The ramp MDOT is completing is for trucks that have entered the United States and cleared customs. That ramp, once completed by MDOT, still cannot be opened until DIBC completes the truck road from the customs plaza exit, parallel to Fort Street and then curving up to the structure MDOT is about to complete.

Q. Does this mean that agreement on Pier 19 is the only hurdle left?
A. No. DIBC has been under a court order for the past two years to remove numerous conflicting structures and construct additional dedicated public roads as agreed to in its contract with MDOT. This additional work is identified in the Wayne County Circuit Court's Nov. 3, 2011, order finding the bridge company in contempt. The work includes the following contractual items: relocate Pier 19; remediate SO1 piers 11, 12 and 13; remediate 21st Street; construct the dedicated public road to receive traffic from the freeway directly to the bridge; construct the access road and special return routes for MDOT and emergency vehicles; construct the dedicated truck road from customs to the new structure (S02/S32); and convey the remaining parcels.

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