Gordie Howe bridge work could begin summer '18

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit — Construction is projected to begin in the summer of 2018 on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, a project the authority overseeing it expects will create thousands of construction and operational jobs on both sides of the border.

Michael Cautillo, president and CEO of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, left, and Dwight Duncan, interim chair of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority board, address the annual public meeting at Michigan Outdoor Adventure Center Friday in Detroit.

Officials with the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority touted progress during its annual meeting Friday at the Michigan Outdoor Adventure Center on Atwater in Detroit, as well as the Mackenzie Hall Cultural Centre in Windsor.

The authority has acquired the land it needs in Canada and also has paid $22 million for 351 properties in Detroit. Some of the land it needs is owned by the competing Ambassador Bridge, Mark Butler, a spokesman for the authority, confirmed Friday.

The Howe bridge will provide a second highway link for heavy trucks at the busiest U.S.-Canada crossing point, the second span to the aging Ambassador owned by Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who has been attempting to build a second, private span over the river.

About $2 billion in Canadian federal contributions have gone toward the Herb Gray Parkway, which was built for access to the bridge, as well as for property acquisition, preparation and utility relocation on the Canada side, Butler said.

The Howe bridge will be between Zug Island and historic Fort Wayne and it’s opening — once pegged for 2020 — wasn’t specified Friday. Authority board members said they expect a four-year time frame.

U.S. property acquisition began in June 2015. During the fiscal year, the bridge authority provided funding for Detroit property acquisition.

Linda Hurdie, left, chief financial officer, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, Dwight Duncan, interim chair of the board, and Michael Cautillo, president and CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, watch a presentation of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project during the annual public meeting Friday at the Michigan Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit.

State Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, who serves on a community advisory committee for the project, said Friday she’s focused on making sure the Delray community in southwest Detroit is treated fairly.

“Some people already have been relocated, but we’re pushing for additional optional buyouts for those outside the footprint and right next to the service drive, that may be impacted,” she said.

Canada has committed to paying for construction of the bridge. The cost had been estimated near $2.1 billion and is to be repaid through future toll revenue.

Butler on Friday said it’s “premature” to cite costs since officials are still working to select a team, then agree to the schedule and contract.

“Original estimates were based on anticipated construction costs only, and are now a few years old,” he said. “The contract being tendered through (the bridge authority’s) procurement process is looking for a team to design, build and finance the project as well as operate and maintain the project over a 30-year period.”

The contract cost, to be announced after the deal is closed, will include the full price to fulfill all those requirements, he said.

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