In a big step forward for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority on Thursday announced that it has issued the formal request for proposals to three teams of finalists vying to build the massive span.
Those three teams, each consisting of multiple international firms with expertise in architecture, engineering, construction, finance, law, bridge operations and more, now have several months to submit their bids. The bridge authority, the Canadian entity charged with getting the project done, will then choose a winning team about a year from now. Formal negotiations for a completed agreement should wrap up about 18 months from now.
That completed agreement will begin what is estimated to be about a 48-month construction schedule, although the time needed to build the bridge could vary depending on what the winning team decides it needs. But a four-year schedule at the end of the selection process puts the expected opening of the bridge out to about 2022.
The issuance of the request for proposals, or RFP, is significant because it could put to rest doubts about the progress on the planned Gordie Howe project. The bridge authority originally said in early 2015 that it might issue the RFP around the end of last year. Now, almost a year later, it has finally gone out.
From what project officials have said, the delay was due mainly to concerns raised by the land acquisition process on the Detroit side of the border, where the Michigan Department of Transportation is buying and assembling hundreds of parcels for the bridge approaches and inspection plaza.
"Michigan considers the release of the RFP to be great news," said Andy Doctoroff, special project adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder for the bridge project. "It is great news because it demonstrates that the Gordie Howe International Bridge project is moving full steam ahead, and it reflects the fantastic working relationship that Michigan has with Canada and all of its project partners."
He added, "The issuance of the RFP demonstrates Canada's and Michigan's shared and unrelenting commitment to this vital infrastructure project."
Amarjeet Sohi, Canada's minister of infrastructure and communities, echoed that.
“The Gordie Howe International Bridge is one of the most significant infrastructure projects in North America because of its vital role in maintaining and growing Canada’s most important trade relationship and closest partnership with the United States," he said.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge is planned as a six-lane span that will cross the Detroit River about two miles downstream from the Ambassador Bridge. When built, it will link directly into I-75 on the Detroit side and connect via the new Herb Gray Parkway with Canadian highways.