The Canadian government has selected a consortium led by engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin to build the new, multibillion-dollar Champlain bridge connecting Montreal to communities on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.
Other members of the consortium include two Spanish-based companies, ACS Infrastructures and Dragados Canada, and an American company, Flatiron Construction.
The bridge project, forecast to cost between $3 billion and $5 billion, is expected to open in December 2018.
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The exact cost will be disclosed when the contract is signed in July.
SNC-Lavalin's share of the contract is expected to range between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, said analyst Maxim
Sytchev of Dundee Capital Markets.
Ottawa awarded the contract to the so-called Signature Group even though partner SNC-Lavalin faces criminal corruption charges over activities in Libya.
"We had a rigorous verification. We work with facts, not accusations," said Denis Lebel, federal Minister of Infrastructure.
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Sytchev said the biggest concern for SNC investors was whether the federal government would award a contract to a company that was investigated by the RCMP and could face a 10-year bidding ban on government contracts if convicted.
"Today's announcement suggests that the debarment fears were overblown," he wrote in a report. "While the Champlain award does not fully assuage the legal fears, it is a strong vote of confidence for SNC's ability to secure government work."
The consortium is responsible for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the structure.
It beat bidding finalists St. Lawrence New Bridge Partnership, which included Stantec and the St. Lawrence Alliance, whose partners included Aecon Group and WSP Group.
Work on the new bridge is expected to begin this summer.
The federal government said the project will create 30,000 jobs.