Things are finally moving along for the drawn-out Gateway Project, with the Detroit International Bridge Company transferring a promised $16 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation to complete construction work.
Earlier this month, Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards handed control of the construction project over to MDOT. The department expects to complete construction in less than a year. The Detroit Free Press reports the court-ordered $16 million transfer took place Monday by money wire.
The Gateway Project was designed to connect area freeways to the Ambassador Bridge in an effort to minimize truck traffic in residential southwest Detroit, but construction has dragged on for years.
Edwards ordered DIBC to complete the project in February 2010. But his ruling went unheeded, and the judge briefly jailed DIBC president Dan Stamper in 2011 and both Stamper and DIBC owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun earlier this year. DIBC complied with Edwards' February order to restart work on the $230 million construction project, but the company's efforts didn't stop the judge from handing control to MDOT a month later.
DIBC will have to pay the full amount of the remaining construction, or get a refund if the project comes in under budget. MDOT estimated the project's completion would cost $18 million, according to the Detroit News.
MDOT plans to put out Requests for Qualifications this week to find contractors, but in the meantime, the department has hired engineering consultant company HNTB to manage the process of setting up the design-build contract and choosing a team of consultants and contractors for the project.
MDOT is expediting the process by using a design-build, rather than the traditional route of waiting until the design is complete to award contracts, according to MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi. HNTB worked with MDOT on an initial portion of the Gateway Project, for which the company won a 2011 Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies and a Michigan ACEC Eminent Conceptor Award.
But the company is currently under scrutiny elsewhere. A federal audit suggests the state of Texas improperly contracted with HNTB, and alleges the company overcharged the state for its role in managing federal hurricane recovery grants, according to the Austin-American Statesman.
DIBC and MDOT will appear in court Thursday to share the progress made on the Gateway Project since March 8.