Work on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project progresses with millions of dollars in contract awards

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Gordie Howe Bridge
Rendering of the Gordie Howe Bridge

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) and its partners are kicking off the 2017 construction season with phase two of the preparatory activities at the Canadian Port of Entry (POE). Three contracts have been awarded for high voltage cabling and accessories, transmission and distribution line relocation works totalling approximately $86 million, WBDA says in a news release.

“The second stage of preparatory works is another step in delivering Canadian and US sites that are ready for construction to our eventual private-sector partner,” said Michael Cautillo, the WBDA’s president and chief executive officer. “The more work we complete now, the more quickly our partner will be able to begin construction after financial close.”

The contracts have been awarded to Prysmian Cables and Systems Canada Ltd. for cable and accessories; Valard Construction LP for transmission lines relocations; and AMS, a joint venture of Amico Infrastructures Inc. and Mid-South Contractors Ltd. for distribution line relocation. The utility relocations as part of this work will focus on the Hydro One power corridor that supports Ontario’s power grid.

The site of the future Canadian POE contains overhead lines that need to be relocated. Many of these overhead lines will be moved underground and some connected onto new transmission towers. Through these contracts, these overhead lines will be relocated underground and the manufactured cables placed in concrete-encased duct banks.

In addition to working closely with Hydro One, WDBA will work with West Windsor Power to relocate high-voltage transmission lines that are being impacted by the project.

Undertaking this work at this time will ensure that the Canadian POE site will be ready for the private-sector partner chosen to build the bridge.

Bridge construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2018, project board members announced at the WDBA annual meeting at the end of April.

The WDBA expects to select a private contractor by May or June of 2018 and construction will begin shortly after, Cautillo said.

“When we bring our private sector partner on board… I believe they’re going to start work on the entire site both on the Canadian and U.S. side and with a focus initially on the bridge itself,” he said.

“When the private sector contractor comes on board, both sites will be available and construction can start.”

The authority is still pursuing acquisition of property needed for construction on the U.S. side.

It has funded the acquisition of 351 Detroit properties, but has only obtained 60 per cent of the land needed on the U.S. side, Cautillo said.

Some of the remaining land is owned by competitor Manuel “Matty” Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, who has been doing everything he can to thwart the bridge construction, because it would end his Ambassador Bridge crossing monopoly.

Canada will cover the cost of building the $2.1 billion bridge, plus a $250 million customs plaza on the U.S. side. Michigan’s share of the cost is to be repaid in the form of toll collections.

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