DRIC looks for bridge builders

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan and Canadian transport officials have officially sent out feelers to firms who might be interested in designing and constructing a new, international toll bridge between Windsor, Ont. and Detroit.

Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Transport Canada are asking individual companies and teams to respond to a Request for Proposal of Interest in partnering on the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) project.

The deadline to submit responses is March 17.

The RPI follows a series of informal interviews that MDOT, Transport Canada, as well as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, conducted with major developers, contractors and lenders who had previously been involved in similar large privately-financed transportation infrastructure projects.

The RPI includes the proposed end-to-end connection consisting of a new Detroit River bridge, the associated border inspection areas in the U.S and Canada); and a connecting link to I-75 in Detroit.

The connecting link to Highway 401, known as The Windsor Essex Parkway project, is not included as it’s currently procured as a stand-alone component.

State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle says the stage is being set to form a public-private partnership that will move the DRIC project forward.

"At this point, we are considering a model that would incorporate some participation by the private sector in financing, design, construction, engineering and maintenance," Steudle said. "Although we have not yet finalized what that model will eventually look like, we know there are a number of teams out there eagerly anticipating the start of work on this historic project that will create jobs and keep international trade flowing across the border as efficiently as possible."

Preliminary feedback indicates there is extensive interest in the market for projects of this type, says MDOT, and aside from some geotechnical engineering issues, there are no substantial construction complexities involved.

"Given the anticipated tolled nature of the border crossing, MDOT says there are several public-private partnership models ranging from real tolls to availability payments that could be applied to the DRIC under current market conditions." 

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