Good morning everyone,
It’s great to see such a large crowd here today and so many familiar faces. Thank you for your continued interest in the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
Before I go further I would like to acknowledge Bryce Phillips who has joined us today. (NOTE: subject to confirmation of attendance) Bryce please stand. Bryce has recently been named as the new Chief Executive Officer for Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. Bryce was appointed to this role following an open, transparent, and merit-based process led by the Government of Canada. His first day is July 16 th and he is bringing extensive experience in leadership and in infrastructure to WDBA. I and the rest of the Board of Directors look forward to working closely with Bryce over the coming years.
You have no doubt have seen the artwork around the room. These pieces of art were submitted by over 100 local students from communities on both sides of the border in response to our Show Us Your Bridge Art Challenge. Their artwork depicts their vision of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Let’s just take a moment to applaud these creative students.
Now to get down to business .....
Almost decade ago (reference: announcement made on November 5, 2010) I made a similar type of announcement as what we are gathered here for today. That announcement was for the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway.
As you know, the Parkway was the first piece of infrastructure completed for the new Windsor- Detroit gateway end-to-end border transportation system identified through the most extensive environmental assessment undertaken in Ontario’s history.
The Parkway ensures the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services to the Gordie Howe International Bridge, separates local and international traffic, and eliminates stop- and-go traffic in residential areas.
The project was a major catalyst for job creation, other public projects and partnerships. It is also a shining example of a successful public-private partnership.
The need for a second crossing at the busiest commercial land border crossing between Canada and the United States has been long recognized by the Canadian, US, Ontario and Michigan governments.
Once in service, the Gordie Howe International Bridge will address four regional transportation needs and enhance the international trading relationship of the two countries.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge will provide improved system connectivity. Passenger and commercial traffic will have direct connections to Highway 401 in Ontario and Interstate 75 in Michigan. No other crossing at the critical Windsor-Detroit trade corridor offers this.
Our bridge will provide additional border crossing capacity and provide six lanes and a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge will provide improved border processing capabilities with state-of-the-art technology. It will offer dedicated FAST/NEXUS lanes and separated truck, automotive, pedestrian and cyclist lanes.
And lastly, it will provide redundancy and provide an alternative border crossing.
Now I would like to spend a moment talking about public-private partnerships, otherwise known as P3s, and why the Gordie Howe International Bridge is being delivered under this model.
Governments have always relied on the private sector’s expertise to design and build public infrastructure. The decision to use a P3 followed a rigorous financial and technical analysis and independent business case, which concluded that a public-private partnership would be the most cost-effective method to deliver the project. It is quite appropriate for a complex project like this to be delivered using a P3.
There are also many benefits to this model.
Under a P3 arrangement, the private-sector partner is responsible to deliver the project at a pre- determined price and will be subject to significant penalties if they fail to deliver on the contract.
This allows for a good balance of risk sharing between the government and the private-sector partner and provides financial certainty to the government and to taxpayers.
It also offers guarantees that the infrastructure will be well maintained for the duration of the Project Agreement.
So as you can see, a public-private partnership is just that, a partnership. In this case a long- term partnership that will last 30 years once the crossing is in service.
And now today’s announcement.
I am pleased to announce today the name of the Preferred Proponent that we will work with to deliver the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
This team met all the technical requirements set out in the Request for Proposals and is comprised of some of the most recognized leaders in the construction/infrastructure industry.
Following an intensive, open and fair evaluation process, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority has selected Bridging North America as the Preferred Proponent to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
We have representatives from Bridging North America with us today and I ask them to stand to be recognized.
I thank you for your hard work over the duration of WDBA’s P3 procurement process.
I offer our congratulations to all three of our Proponents for the phenomenal amount of outstanding work that you put into your submissions, but as with any competitive procurement process, there can only be one left in the end.
This is an exciting time for WDBA and for communities on both sides of the border. The selection of Bridging North America as the Preferred Proponent is another step forward towards the start of construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge – the largest infrastructure project along the Canada-US border and one which will stimulate the economies in Canada and the United States.
This is history in the making. Construction of the long-awaited Gordie Howe International Bridge will start later this year.
I am very proud to be here today to be a part of it.