OTTAWA—The Canadian, Ontario and Michigan governments have taken the next step toward beginning construction on a major new piece of infrastructure spanning the Detroit River.
The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority has issued a request for proposals, calling on the three consortia selected during the previous stage of the procurement process to submit bids for the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The groups of businesses, which include a number of major Canadian construction firms, including SNC-Lavalin Inc., Aecon Group Inc. and EllisDon, will need to provide a fixed cost assessment and schedule.
The WDBA, a crown corporation created to oversee the construction of the new bridge, said it will select which private consortium will build the project within 18 months.
Long-term government analysis have pegged the price of the bridge at $4.8 billion, though recent reports said the lower value of the loonie could add significantly to the cost. Officials told Trudeau earlier this year currency fluctuation could add as much as $3.5 billion to the cost of the bridge.
The Windsor-Detroit corridor is the busiest commercial land crossing between the U.S. and Canada, with trucks carrying about $100 billion in goods across the border each year. In addition to providing an alternative to the aging Ambassador Bridge, the new crossing is expected to speed up traffic flow across the border. Currently, on the Windsor side, drivers are forced onto city streets briefly after crossing the Ambassador Bridge.
The Canadian government has touted the project as a boon for a range of export sectors, including automotive manufacturing. Despite the optimism, the election of Republican Donald Trump this week has many officials and companies both north and south of the border worried about what stance the new U.S. president will take on trade. Trump was a vocal opponent of trade agreements, including NAFTA, during the campaign.
The new bridge will have six lanes and span a total of 2.5 kilometres, connecting to the new $1.4 billion Herb Gray Parkway in Windsor and Interstate 75 in the U.S.
Targeting a late 2020 completion date, the Canadian government said preparatory work has already begun on both sides of the border.