A Detroit bridge owner who was jailed for refusing a court order has reversed direction and begun the court-ordered demolition of structures that his company built illegally.
Dan Stamper, president of Detroit International Bridge Co., vowed last week after his release that his company would press ahead with its plan to build a new double-span bridge at the site, which connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario.
Stamper was jailed for six hours on Jan. 10 after his company again refused to comply with an order by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards that it tear down fuel pumps, toll booths and part of a duty-free shop on the bridge’s plaza.
‘Stringent Sanctions’ Ordered
The structures were holding up progress on the $230 million Gateway Project, a 10-year-old plan by DIBC and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to connect the bridge and surrounding highways.
Edwards issued the demolition order in February 2010, but DIBC had not acted on it, saying that MDOT’s requirements were unclear.
In an opinion issued before jailing Stamper, the judge said, "Stringent sanctions are needed to bring about compliance." He fined the company $7,500 and gave it one year to complete work it had agreed to as its portion of the Gateway Project.
‘They Won’t Stop Us’
After his release, a defiant Stamper said that “bureaucrats” were “doing everything they can to stop our successful 80-year-old private-sector business from building our new bridge with our own money.”
He added: “They will lose. This won’t stop us, and our new bridge will be built and serve the public well.”
The state has proposed building a publicly owned bridge, the Detroit River International Crossing, downstream, and bridge traffic in the area is declining. DIBC reported last week that traffic on the bridge had increased by 12% from 2009 but was still down 41% from the year 2000.
It was not clear how Stamper had secured his release from jail until two power shovels arrived near the bridge entrance Monday to begin demolition.
A court-appointed monitor informed the judge that the company had begun excavation to remove underground fuel tanks, apparently satisfying the judge that progress was being made, The Detroit News reported.
"They brought two machines out to the site Monday and began excavating," Charles Scales Jr., an engineer and attorney appointed by the judge to monitor of the bridge project, told the newspaper on Tuesday (Jan. 11). "They are continuing today. It appears they are focused on making sure Mr. Stamper doesn't have a repeat visit."