Ambassador Bridge 'not crumbling,' say owners as they attack Windsor
Owners of the Ambassador Bridge claim the City of Windsor "is now taunting us," in the wake of debris having fallen from the 80-year-old international crossing on Windsor's west end.
After days of silence, The Detroit International Bridge Co., issued a statement Thursday. The City of Windsor closed Wyandotte Street W. under the bridge Oct. 9.
At 2 p.m. Thursday, Matt Moroun, vice chairman of the Ambassador Bridge company, addressed the issue and answered questions from the media.
Moroun said his company had third-party inspectors "crawling all over the bridge" this week and he isn't aware of any repairs that need to be made.
The City of Windsor also inspected the bridge deck from below.
"We have not heard from the city," Moroun said. "The only information we got from the city was their actions in closing the streets."
The city engineers looked at the bridge deck Wednesday. Then the city closed Peter and Donnelly streets under the bridge that afternoon.
Gaping holes can be seen from beneath the bridge.
"The bridge is not crumbling," Moroun said, insisting the bridge is safe. "We have some old concrete that from time to time needs repair."
He said the holes seen from below are in the sidewalk, not the roadbed. There have been no injuries and no property damage as a result of material from the Ambassador Bridge, Moroun said.
"The road bed of the bridge is in fine condition. I travelled on it to get here," Moroun said at the foot of the bridge in Windsor. "We have no intention of replacing the sidewalk until we build the new approach."
The bridge company has been pursuing a new span for years but it's being held up in Canadian courts.
Moroun said any extensive repair and upkeep of the Ambassador Bridge essentially goes hand-in-hand with a new bridge.
"What our engineers have recommended is a completely new Canadian approach [to the Ambassador Bridge]," Moroun said. "Some people, for political reasons, would like us to manage the decay forever. That is not safe. That is not proper.
"What's going on with the City [or Windsor] is they don't want to see the Ambassador Bridge stand tall for the next 50 years."
Deficiencies in the bridge were identified by Transport Canada earlier this year the department said in an email to Radio-Canada. Transport Canada said the deficiencies were communicated to the bridge company, which it said is currently working to rectify.
Dilkens hopeful repairs are made
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens hopes the Ambassador Bridge company will have crews fix what the city considers problem areas as soon as possible.
"I think like many people who walk under the bridge, and if you look up and you can actually see they sky through portions of the sidewalk on the bridge that have fallen down, the concrete's no longer there, certainly me and other many other people probably feel the same way, that it's concerning to see that," Dilkens said.
Dilkens said the trio of streets will remain closed until the City of Windsor considers the area safe.
Dilkens said the city has spoken with the bridge company and hopes repairs will be made soon.
"We just want to make sure that people are safe and that the bridge is doing what they need to do to make sure that their operation is safe for people who use the bridge," Dilkens said. "More importantly for us, the people who use the streets and walk underneath the bridge on the sidewalks. We want to make sure those folks are"
Here's the bridge company's printed statement in full:
"The game of holding the Ambassador Bridge rebuild work at bay until the government can get their bridge built is a dangerous one.
"It needs to be said that the City of Windsor has worked very hard to delay and object to a complete rebuild of this section of the bridge. The work was to have been performed this past summer. If the city found a genuine issue in need of repair that our engineer has missed, we'll take care of it. We are not aware of any incidents linked to the city's concerns. The major rebuild should be allowed to proceed.
The City Government in Windsor is now taunting us by criticizing the age of our bridge while simultaneously objecting to any major replacement or repairs."