A Windsor Star article indicating that construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit would be pushed back another year to 2023 has been disputed by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA), responsible for constructing what it describes as “the largest and most ambitious trade infrastructure along the Canada-US border.”
The Star article asserts that the three private sector proponents have been told they will have an extra year to submit their detailed proposals; suggesting that the project would be delayed for the same amount of time.
The WDBA disputes this contention, observing that “since issuing the Request for Proposals in fall 2016, WDBA has been clear that the private-sector partner would be announced in 2018.”
The story asserts: “Construction of the long-awaited new Windsor-Detroit border crossing bridge has been set back by a year because of the complex bidding process, meaning it likely won’t be completed until 2023.” It suggests additional community benefits requirements are among the reasons for the delays.
Three consortia representing large-scale infrastructure contractors are competing for the work, described as “proponents” by the WBDA.
However, the WDBA indicates that the schedule change for detailed proposals doesn’t suggest that the project will in fact be delayed to 2023. “In fact, construction schedule is part of the proposals that will be submitted by our proponents and we will hear from the proponents how they intend to deliver this project on an aggressive and prudent schedule,” WDBA president and CEO Michael Cautillo said in a statement.
The community benefits requirements and specifications changes to incorporate a multi-use path for pedestrians and bicycles should not impede the schedule, he said.
“In fact, the job training, health monitoring and neighbourhood improvements announced by the City of Detroit are being delivered by the City of Detroit and are not part of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project and do not impact the project schedule,” Cautillo said. “In fact, WDBA announced the incorporation of a multi-use path on the Gordie Howe International Bridge almost six months ago to ensure the proponents had time to incorporate this design element into their proposals.”
“We are in constant dialogue with the proponents to understand their needs as they complete their proposals. The timetable for our proponents to submit information is being reviewed, which is not unusual for a construction project of this scale. This will ensure that the procurement process will yield the best possible proposals without compromising our commitment to begin significant construction of the bridge in 2018,” the statement said.
“We are undertaking all possible activities to enable our private-sector partner to begin work as quickly as possible. WDBA and our partners have already made significant progress on the project with approximately $200 million invested in preparatory construction activities on the site of the Canadian Port of Entry and over 70 per cent of required property for the US Port of Entry is under the Michigan Department of Transportation’s control. This is another sign of WDBA’s unwavering commitment to delivering this project now.
“WDBA recognizes the strong interest that our stakeholders and communities on both sides of the border have in this historic project and we are committed to keeping the public informed of our progress and project milestones.
“WDBA remains committed to having a private-sector partner in place in 2018 and construction starting on the bridge in 2018,” Cautillo said.