Legal Battles Loom over Land for New Bridge

As the State of Michigan has started making offers on non-residential properties it needs to begin construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, multiple legal battles could be looming for the state. One such property, The First Latin American Baptist Church, located at 6205 W. Fort St., rejected an offer in late July from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) because the offer was too low, according to an article by Louis Aguilar of The Detroit News.

Alan Ackerman, a partner at Ackerman Ackerman & Dynkowski, representing the church, told Aguilar, “Their methodology may have been suspect. We are getting our own appraisal done.”

This is not the only battle the state may be facing. Manuel (Matty) Maroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, is a strong opponent of the new bridge, and owns about 30 parcels of land needed by the state to begin construction on the bridge. If Moroun refuses the state’s offers, a court fight could last years. As Ackerman explained in an article by John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press, these eminent domain cases could take anywhere from eight months to as long as five years.

With the state needing to acquire about 670 parcels to start construction on the bridge, about half of which has been purchased, MDOT officials estimate that the bridge will be built in time – a prediction that is too optimistic, Ackerman believes.

Ackerman believes the bridge will not be finished until 2023, and not until all parties reach an agreement with Moroun, he told Jack Lessenberry in an editorial for the Detroit Metro Times.

“I’ve never seen anything like the power of Matty Moroun,” Ackerman said. “He gets anything he wants.”

It remains to be seen just how long this process will take, but with many businesses still awaiting long-overdue offers from the state, MDOT’s hopes for a bridge built by 2020 are appearing more and more like a pipe dream.