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Aecon to Rejoin Gordie Howe Consortium

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Toronto-based construction firm Aecon Group has reportedly re-entered the Bridging North America consortium, the group selected to design and build the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, months after withdrawing amid concerns about a planned sale to a state-owned company in China.

Aecon was originally a member of the consortium, which is set to build the international bridge through the design-build-finance-operate-maintain model, but pulled out in May before the group was picked as the “preferred proponent” for the job in July.

Gordie Howe rendering
Courtesy of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

The Gordie Howe International Bridge, seen here in a rendering released last month, will be a cable-stayed bridge; final designs are expected this fall.

Aecon said at the time that it was too busy to commit to the project’s timeline, but the company was also working on a deal in which state-owned China Communications Construction International Holding Ltd. would have taken control of the company. Some in Canada were concerned about the possibility of China’s government playing a role in the construction and operation of a major bridge between Canada and the United States.

That deal fell apart later in May, when the Canadian government blocked the sale.

Bridging North America

In July, BridgingNA was selected by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority as its contractor for the Gordie Howe, which is projected to cost between $2 billion and $4 billion. The announcement came with news about the design of the span, too: While the full design won’t be finalized until next month, it was announced that it will be a cable-stayed bridge. (Before the selection of the design-build team, the WDBA had said it would be either cable-stayed or a suspension bridge.)

The WDBA approved the return of Aecon to the group last week. The firm joins ACS Infrastructure Canada, Dragados Canada, Fluor Corporation and AECOM on the team.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge project has been in the works for years; Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder formally entered into an agreement with Canadian officials to put the plan in motion in 2012. The new bridge would be less than two miles from the Ambassador Bridge, a privately owned span that’s the busiest crossing between the U.S. in Canada in terms of trade volume.

Bridge Challenges

The owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Manuel “Matty” Moroun, has fought the implementation of the Gordie Howe every step of the way, with several legal challenges over the bridge agreement’s constitutionality and the use of eminent domain to take land owned by Moroun’s company for the new bridge. To date, many of Moroun’s challenges have been thrown out, including one tossed out just last week by a federal judge.

That suit, which the Ambassador Bridge company says it will continue to pursue via appeal, argues that the Gordie Howe project can’t use eminent domain in the U.S. because it was started by a Canadian company. The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority is a Canadian crown corporation.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Contractors; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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