DETROIT - Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and other officials on Tuesday celebrated the finishing of ramps that route big trucks coming off the Ambassador Bridge to connect directly with nearby interstates without driving along Detroit surface streets.
It's a key part of work that remained from a $230 million construction Gateway Project on the U.S. side.
For four years, the trucks have driven on Fort Street and through some southwest Detroit neighborhoods while billionaire Manny Moroun fought with the Michigan Department of Transportation in court.
Scott Brines lives in southwest Detroit. He attended the public announcement to celebrate the fact that unpleasant things are leaving his neighborhood.
"The vibrations, the noise, the diesel exhaust," Brines said.
The 84-year-old Moroun and Detroit International Bridge Company president Dan Stamper went to jail last winter in contempt of court.
Part of the work included removing Pier 19, which Moroun built as a ramp to a new bridge to Canada he wants to build.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants the state to build it and has discussed avoiding the Michigan Legislature and building it with an executive order.
A multi-million dollar advertising campaign by Moroun helped vote down a new bridge in Lansing.
"You see trucks moving very slowly and backed up across this bridge during business hours on a very common basis. So it is critically necessary. It is absolutely needed. There is a demand for it," says Calley.
Another major portion of the current project is to build ramps on Moroun's property to route traffic coming off the freeways to go to the bridge away from Moroun's Duty Free Shop and gas pumps, to meet federal requirements.
Victor Judnic, a consultant to MDOT, said trucks should not be forced to drive through those facilities owned by the bridge.
"You have to have a publicly dedicated road to access Canada directly," Judnic said.
That work is expected to go to September.
A call to the DIBC for comment was not returned.
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