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Canada: Howe Bridge 'No. 1 Priority'

Friday, January 26, 2018

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Canadian officials have labeled the Gordie Howe International Bridge as the county's foremost infrastructure priority, with groundbreaking for construction remaining on schedule despite the years of challenges entered by the owner of a nearby private bridge.

Officials expect to sign a contract with the selected bidder by the end of September.

Deal History

In 2012, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder worked out a deal with Canada to construct a second bridge that would provide another route into the northern country, a project that would later become known as the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun has spent years fighting the ruling, attempting to make a case for the fact that the deal did not involve the state legislature's approval.

In a previous ruling in October 2017, Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. declared the deal to be legal. The Michigan Department of Transportation was also on track to take 20 parcels of land from Moroun’s company in order to construct the Gordie Howe. All of Moroun’s lawsuits have been unsuccessful to date.

November Ruling

Chief Judge Judith W. Rogers also ruled that Michigan’s intermediate state appeals court was not wrong in honoring the international deal.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

The Gordie Howe International Bridge has been labeled Canada’s foremost infrastructure priority. Groundbreaking for construction remains on schedule.

Moroun’s lawyers had initially argued that state law prohibited Michigan from making the deal with Canada, but Rogers noted in her opinion that none of the challenges presented were persuasive. Moroun had also made the case that his International Bridge Co. had exclusive rights to operate a crossing over the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, based on a 1921 agreement made between the U.S. and Canada.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest crossing between the two countries in terms of trade.

Gordie Howe Construction

Interim CEO Andre Juneau of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority told the Windsor Star that he expects the winning bidder to be selected by early June. Currently, three private-sector finalists remain in the running.

Juneau added that early construction preparation work is slated to begin in July, with the financial close occurring in September.

Even though the state of Michigan will receive a new governor this year, things are expected to continue on schedule, as the contract will be finalized before the change in leadership occurs, noted Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

Official start and end dates for the project must be included in the bid, noted Sohi, emphasizing that the schedule must be met.

Despite the need to stay on schedule, the request for proposals was initially delayed by six months to allow proponents to prepare the necessary documents, and to allow othe government to acquire the remaining property in the States. (Currently, 85 percent of the necessary property is accounted for.)

Bridge Redundancy

Sohi noted that the bridge redundancy—the Gordie Howe being two miles downstream from the Ambassador—was always part of the business case.

“We don't see any reasons that the existence of the Ambassador Bridge in any way hinders the building of the Gordie Howe International Bridge,” the minister added.

Sohi also hopes that the Gordie Howe will relieve some bottleneck traffic and improve trade between the United States and Canada.

   

Tagged categories: Bidding; Bridges; Construction; Contractors; Government; NA; Program/Project Management

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