First major tenders issued by Canadian government to build DRIC bridge

The first major tenders for the planned $1 billion Detroit River bridge have been issued by the Canadian government, the Star has learned.

The move comes just days after news the U.S. Coast Guard issued a permit required for construction of the Detroit River International Crossing bridge and a failed attempt by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun in a Washington courtroom to block the permit.

The tenders issued by Publics Works and Government Services Canada calls for companies interested in providing tolling services and electrical systems for the crossing. Applicants must respond by July 15.

Issuance of the tenders is a good indication how the time has arrived for Transport Canada to get construction rolling for the new bridge, says spokesman Mark Butler.

“This demonstrates progress for the new bridge,” Butler said. “The release of this RFP is yet another step forward in the planning and ultimate construction of the new crossing.

“The results will be included in the overall P3 (public-private partnership) procurement for the DRIC project.”

The federal agencies on behalf of Transport Canada have released a request for proposals to obtain professional services for Intelligent Transportation Systems and tolling systems for the DRIC bridge, he said.

Results of the tender will be included in the package for when an RFP is eventually issued by the federal government to find a private sector partner or consortium as the overall contractor and operator of the new DRIC crossing.

There are likely to be more such tenders issued for portions of the bridge project in the coming months so that once a final bid is put out to major global infrastructure companies to build the crossing, there will be detailed costs and specifications included in the package for consideration by consortiums seeking to be the builder and long-term operator of the new bridge.

The Canadian government is essentially paying full costs of the DRIC bridge project. Canada has already agreed to pay the state of Michigan’s full share — estimated at $550 milllion — to be used for property acquisition and to build feeder roads connecting to the I-75 freeway in Detroit.

Property acquisition in the industrial community of Delray — where the bridge will be located on the U.S. side — is expected to begin within a few months.

A preliminary clause in the state of Michigan’s transportation draft budget initially included forbidding any property purchases for the DRIC bridge, but was removed late last week by lawmakers in Lansing.

The estimated cost for work under the tolling and electronics tenders being offered range from $750,000 to $900,000, according to the document.

The bridge project — which will cost $2.1 billion once feeder roads in Detroit and plazas are counted — is expected to provide up to 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and take up to five years to complete. The scheduled opening date is sometime in 2020.

One of the project’s final remaining hurdles is to secure $250 million from the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration to pay for the U.S. customs plaza in Detroit. That is largely the only cost not being covered by the Canadian government or its future private sector partner.

All money being used to pay for the DRIC project is anticipated to be recouped through tolls.

Local MP Brian Masse (NDP – Windsor-West) applauded tenders finally being issued for the DRIC bridge project, but remains uneasy with the P3 process being used to build and operate the crossing. He would prefer to see a design-build model.

“This is positive news,” Masse said. “I am a little uneasy how this process will unfold given what’s happened on the parkway.”

The Spanish-led consortium overseeing construction of the $1.4-billion Herb Gray Parkway was forced to ditch the company which manufactured over 500 faulty girders — 300 of which had to be pulled after already being installed.

Also, a Toronto-based company hired by the consortium to do lighting and other electrical work declared bankruptcy a few weeks ago, cheating dozens of workers out of thousands of dollars of pay they are owed and they are fighting to recoup.

“This is a good step,” Masse said. “But (building the bridge) is going to be challenging. We just have to make sure going forward (that) everything is accountable.”

Originally posted by The Windsor Star