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State judge dismisses Moroun suit against Howe bridge

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — A state Court of Claims judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against the state meant to halt construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Detroit.

Judge Cynthia Stephens wrote in her opinion that Crown Enterprises Inc. and other companies affiliated with the Moroun family that runs the Detroit International Bridge Co. and Ambassador Bridge did not file it quickly enough after an agreement to build the bridge was reached in June 2012.

“Plaintiffs plainly did not file the requisite claim or notice within one year after the date on which the agreement was signed,” Stephens wrote.

Grosse Pointe billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun has been fighting the construction of the $2.1 billion bridge from Detroit to Canada in both state and federal courts for years. The planned Gordie Howe International bridge would compete with Moroun’s existing Ambassador Bridge to Canada.

Last year, a federal judge rejected a Bridge Company suit that argued the agreement between Michigan and Canada to build the span over the Detroit River about two miles downstream from Moroun’s bridge was unconstitutionally approved by the U.S. Department of State.

In the state suit, lawyers for Crown Enterprises argued that the Legislature didn’t make any appropriations related to the bridge construction – which could begin as soon as the summer of 2018 – and that the Michigan Department of Transportation “illegally spent money on the project without the Legislature’s approval when it undertook actions related to condemnation.”

Stephens wrote in her opinion: “This Court does not have authority to hear and determine condemnations hearings.”

With the suit dismissed, another hurdle for the bridge construction has been cleared.