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Gordie Howe Bridge Contract Finalized at $4.4B

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

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After years of debate and numerous legal challenges from the owner of a nearby bridge, construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project in Detroit is set to begin in earnest this Friday, with a completion date slated for 2024.

According to MLive, the bridge was originally scheduled for completion in 2022, costing roughly $2.1 billion. Now, the pricetag has increased to $4.4 billion.

Bridge Background

The owner of the nearby, privately owned 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 just weeks ago.

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.

Courtesy of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

After years of being besieged by lawsuits from nearby Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project is set to begin in earnest this Friday, with a completion date slated for 2024.

In July, consortium Bridging North America was selected by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority as its preferred private partner for the Gordie Howe. Toronto-based construction firm Aecon Group reportedly re-entered the Bridging North America consortium in August, 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.

The consortium also includes ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc., Dragados Canada Inc. and Fluor Canada.

Construction Begins

Upfront funding for the project came from Canada, with the state of Michigan repaying its share with tolls collected from the U.S. end of the bridge for the next several decades. The bridge is co-owned by both entities. The six-lane, 2.5-kilometer (1.5-mile) cable-stayed bridge will be the longest in North America, linking customs plazas in Windsor and Detroit and providing a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists. (The main span will be 853 meters, or just over half a mile, long.)

WDBA Chairman Dwight Duncan noted that the project will facilitate growth opportunities on both sides of the river, adding that the endeavor “will be built to the highest standards of engineering incorporating sustainability, aesthetics and functionality. It is a shining example of collaboration between our two nations." The bridge was designed with a 125-year lifespan in mind.

The project will reportedly create 2,500 jobs, which includes operating engineers, laborers, carpenters and equipment operators, among others.

“2018 has been a year of significant milestones for the Gordie Howe International Bridge,” said Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “While each one so far for this project has been progressively important, today’s announcement is pivotal to the construction start of the bridge.

“The government of Canada is 100 [percent] committed to the Gordie Howe International Bridge. We are looking forward to the full construction start of this monumental infrastructure project which will play a vital role in supporting the economies of Canada and the U.S., and create opportunities for residents and businesses alike.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Infrastructure; Project Management

Comment from Robert Bullard, (10/3/2018, 9:18 AM)

Canada and US desperately need to improve the mid-Ontario/upper Midwest trade corridor - through Sault Ste. Marie - with renovated existing Soo locks, a new true big ship canal through the farm fields west of Sault Ste. Marie, MI (with three bridge over canal) and a new Gordie Howe style bridge across the Superior Soo River entrance feed by I-75. around the west side of Sault Ste. Marie, CN. It is a big $ project (probably about US$16 billion), but the economic benefits to Eastern Canada (esp. Ontario) and the US upper Midwest are enormous. And with two shipping Soo shipping lanes without tearing up downtown Sault Ste. Marie, MI will drive a rebirth of the eastern end of Mi's upper peninsula.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (10/3/2018, 11:34 AM)

I'm glad they are starting to roll on this new bridge. Moroun has pretty much run out of ways to hold on to his monopoly (and if he persists, perhaps an anti-trust lawsuit might settle him down). I'd be interested in hearing where the additional $2.3 billion has entered the build price...I would suspect contributions from increased labour costs and design modifications....but do the current aluminum and steel tariffs come into play? Here's hoping for a successful project for the BNA consortium.

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