DETROIT — The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday rejected an application from the owners of the Ambassador Bridge to build a second span across the Detroit River to Canada, a major setback to the private company’s contentious quest to construct a twin for the international bridge.
The Coast Guard said in a statement that it was terminating the application by the Detroit International Bridge Co. Among the unresolved issues it cited were the company’s inability to secure property rights to build the bridge west of the existing span and lawsuits between the business and state and federal agencies.
Company spokesman Phil Frame declined to comment. The company must get approval from the Coast Guard because the bridge would cross a navigable waterway.
While the Coast Guard said the process includes all final decisions regarding environmental analysis and the permit itself, the bridge company can resubmit a permit application if all issues are resolved.
The Coast Guard had suspended the permit application process in June, and said Tuesday that several issues from that time remain unresolved. It also warned the bridge company last April to stop building the new span without federal approval.
Officials have been working for years to add capacity at the border, which handles more traffic than any other crossing between the U.S. and Canada. The border at Detroit is now served by the current bridge and a tunnel underneath the river.
The desire to expand has led to rival bridge plans, one by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun and another by the binational, publicly owned Detroit River International Crossing that would be further downriver.
Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard also said last month that the Canadian government offered to buy the Ambassador Bridge last summer, but talks broke down when Moroun asked for $3 billion plus incentives. Blanchard, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Canada, said his comments were based on discussions with U.S. and Canadian officials, not made on their behalf.
A bridge official has said the company never solicited an offer. Canadian officials said discussions were ongoing, but no offer had been made.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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