Coast Guard issues abeyance letter for Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard issued an abeyance letter Monday suspending the Coast Guard bridge permit application process for the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project in Detroit, Mich.

The suspension of the bridge permit application process includes all final agency decisions regarding the National Environmental Policy Act environmental analysis process and the Coast Guard Bridge Permit.

The Detroit International Bridge Company proposes to construct a six-lane, cable-stayed bridge across the Detroit River, just west of and adjacent to the existing four-lane Ambassador Bridge. Prior to commencing construction, the Detroit International Bridge Company must first obtain a Coast Guard Bridge Permit because the proposed structure crosses a navigable waterway of the United States.

The Coast Guard is aware that the City of Detroit has determined that the Detroit International Bridge Company currently does not have the right to build on City of Detroit owned property at Riverside Park. The Coast Guard also recognizes that the Michigan Department of Transportation believes the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project, as currently constructed, is not being implemented by Detroit International Bridge Company per the project’s contractual agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concern that the efficacy of the National Environmental Policy Act analysis contained in the Coast Guard Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project Final Environmental Assessment cannot be determined.

If the Michigan Department of Transportation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are correct, the changes in the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project will create a potential for significant environmental impact. The Coast Guard has advised the Detroit International Bridge Company that it will not proceed until these matters are resolved.

Additionally, there are unresolved matters involving bridge pier construction activities inside the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Plaza that affect the final configuration of traffic patterns. This impacts the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project since there is a clear link between both projects through the bridge plaza; therefore, the accuracy of the environmental analysis contained in the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project Final Environmental Assessment is in question.

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