03/13/2012 11:55 am ET

Gateway Project Going Forward As MDOT Looks For Firm To Complete Ambassador Bridge Construction

The ramps connecting the Ambassador Bridge to area freeways might get a facelift sooner than thought.

The Michigan Department of Transportation, which took over the Gateway Project from the Detroit International Bridge Co. last week after a judge's order, expects to select a new firm to complete the construction in about a month, according to the Detroit Free Press. MDOT plans to have a Request for Qualifications out in late March and start accepting bids the week of April 2.

The state department and the bridge company have been at odds over the drawn-out construction project for several years. MDOT sued DIBC in 2009 for not holding up its end of their contract.

The conflict came to a head in recent months when Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards held DIBC owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun and president Dan Stamper in contempt of court for not finishing the Gateway Project, resulting in a night in jail for the two businessmen.

After stalling for months, DIBC finally complied with Edwards' February orders to restart work on the $230 million construction project. But that new effort wasn't enough for Edwards.

Dissatisfied with the company's progress, he demanded last week that DIBC hand over the project to MDOT. The order came with a hefty price tag for DIBC, which must set up a $16 million fund for the project.

MDOT hopes completing the project will take less than a year. Among the department's priorities are getting trucks off residential streets by building the truck access route, eliminating so-called Pier 19 (the beginnings of a second DIBC-controlled bridge) and realigning three other piers.

DIBC attorney Godfrey Dillard argued the company's timeline would have seen the Gateway project completed by September -- twice as quickly as MDOT's new schedule, the Detroit News reports.

The DIBC weren't the only ones, it seems, taken aback by Edwards' Thursday ruling -- according to the Free Press, even MDOT thought the DIBC was making progress.