September 28, 2018 - Speaking notes for Dwight Duncan, Chair Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority at the Financial Close announcement

Good morning.

Thank you all for joining us here today.

Our bridge is named in honour of #9, Gordie Howe, a hockey legend who personified the close ties that Canada and the United States share.

Gordie was a proud Canadian who was equally proud to play for the Detroit Red Wings.

He built extraordinary goodwill between Canada and the United States. He was a role model and ambassador to generations of fans and players on both sides of the border.

Our new bridge, bearing his name, will continue this proud legacy by accelerating the flow of people, merchandise and services between our great nations for years to come.

The past few months have been busy, productive, and incredibly exciting for the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA).

In July of this year, I had the privilege of announcing the selection of WDBA’s Preferred Proponent – Bridging North America - for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

Just a few weeks later, I was proud to be with the then Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, and the US Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, at the start of advance construction in Michigan.

Today marks yet another milestone in the history of developing a new, state of the art, environmentally sustainable border crossing at Windsor and Detroit.

Today’s announcement will answer two of the questions that I have been most asked by people in the communities on both sides of the border.

The WDBA is committed to keeping all of our citizens and stakeholders, in both countries, well informed in an open and transparent fashion.

And now, the news everyone has been waiting to hear.

I am pleased to announce that the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority has signed a contract with Bridging North to become WDBA’s private-sector partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Gordie Howe International bridge project.

I would like to welcome Tom Middlebrook, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Dragados Canada, who is here today representing Bridging North America and thank him and his entire team for their hard work during the procurement process.

On behalf of the WDBA, let me say that we are looking forward to working with you as we build the Gordie Howe International Bridge together.

Ladies and gentlemen -the Gordie Howe International Bridge is one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America.

It will literally transform the landscape of Windsor and Detroit.

It will encourage new investment in the region.

The relationship between Windsor and Detroit, and further, between Canada and the US, is significant and when we come together great things happen. This project is one example of that and this project will make all of us - every Canadian and American - proud.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority is committed to delivering the best and most beautiful crossing in the world.

It is what the communities on both sides of the border have demanded and, quite frankly, it is what the Windsor-Essex and Detroit communities deserve.

Today, I can confirm with you the fixed price value of the contract between WDBA and Bridging North America.

The contract valued at $5.7 billion includes the design-build DB phase for the Canadian and US ports of entry, the bridge and the Michigan Interchange and the 30-year operation, maintenance, rehabilitation phase for the ports of entry and the bridge.

This is tremendous value considering the 125-year lifespan of the infrastructure and economic opportunity this crossing will provide to Canada and the US.

The contract with Bridging North America is not just fixed price. It is also outcome-based.

This means that WDBA has set the requirements and outcomes for the project and has agreed that Bridging North America will be paid the contract amount for delivering those requirements.

This is good value for taxpayers.

In fact, the Value for Money assessment completed by independent experts for our project estimates a cost savings of almost $563 million, or 10.7 % by using a P3 model as compared to a traditional project delivery.

Construction for one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America has already begun with the bridge expected to be open to traffic by the end of 2024.

Details of the contract cost and the construction timeline will be provided during the technical presentation.

As I look around the room, I can recognize some of you who attended events related to the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway.

You may recall August of 2011, when we celebrated the start of construction on the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway.

I said at that time that residents and businesses in Windsor-Essex would be proud of that magnificent highway.

And they are.

I know that they will be equally proud to host yet another major infrastructure project.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge project will provide a sizeable boost to the local economies.

Already, Bridging North America has leased office space, contracted services and is currently advertising for more than 100 staff positions.

And, I am told that they anticipate hiring 350 people by the end of this year.

And that is just the beginning.

Bridging North America anticipates the creation of 2,500 direct, on-site jobs including direct hires, sub-contractors and seconded individuals as well as significant economic benefits that extend to the whole region.

We will be working with Bridging North America and other experts to understand and then report on the true positive impacts this project will have on the economy and workforce.

The communities on both sides of the border are ready for the new jobs, new investment and new business opportunities that this project will generate.

And together with our private-sector partner, we are ready to help deliver those jobs and opportunities.

As I said earlier in my remarks, I thank you for helping keep our communities informed. And I invite you to continue to spread the news.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge is a reality and it is happening right here, right now.

WDBA made a commitment to deliver the Gordie Howe International Bridge project and today is the start of a new chapter for Windsor and Detroit, as well as Canada and the US.

This project is a shining example of collaboration between our two nations.

I look forward to answering your questions after the technical presentation.

Thank you.