Canadian Manufacturing

Ottawa set to launch bidding for public-private St. Lawrence bridge

Request for qualifications to launch in spring, request for proposals for bridge in summer of 2014

MONTREAL—Transport Canada said it’s ready to open bidding for a new public-private bridge spanning the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.

After completing a business case examining the technical and financial components of such a project—estimates put the cost for a six-lane bridge at between $3-billion and $5-billion—the federal ministry said it will proceed with a procurement process this spring as it targets an in-service date of 2018.

“We will deliver a safe, reliable, long-lasting bridge, constructed in a timely, cost effective, responsible manner that meets the expectations of Montrealers,” said infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel, who was in Montreal to make the announcement.

According to Transport Canada, the business case found a public-private partnership (PPP) to be the most cost-effective way to build the new bridge that will replace the aging Champlain Bridge.

According to numbers released by the ministry, the business case found an estimated cost saving of between five and 18 per cent compared to a public-only bridge.

An estimated $20-billion worth in goods crosses the St. Lawrence each year.

The automobile and truck lanes on the new bridge—three heading in either direction—will make up just one part of the massive infrastructure, dubbed the new bridge for the St. Lawrence (NBSL) project.

The feds are looking to also include a dedicated corridor for light rail traffic, and a multi-use path for walking, running and bicycling.

A two-phase procurement process will begin this spring with a request for qualifications (RFQ), followed by a request for proposals (RFP) set to launch in the summer of 2014.

A winning bid will be chosen by the following spring, with Ottawa looking for construction to start in 2015.

Consultancy firm Arup Canada Inc. evaluated 13 design options for the bridge project as part of the business case, though Transport Canada was careful to note that “the final design for the new bridge will only be determined once the procurement process is finished.”

The feds first announced plans to replace the Champlain Bridge in October 2011.

The new bridge will be open to motor vehicle traffic by 2018, with the rest of the project to be completed by 2020.

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