Windsor

Gordie Howe bridge construction on schedule, officials claim

Officials insist the Gordie Howe International Bridge project is continuing on schedule. That's despite still needing about 30 parcels of land in Detroit and falling eight months late on promises to open up the bid process to contractors.

Bridge officials missed self-appointed date to release RFP documents

This is where the Gordie Howe International Bridge will one day span the Detroit River between Windsor, Ont. and Detroit. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Officials insist the Gordie Howe International Bridge project is continuing on schedule.

That's despite still needing to purchase parcels of land in Detroit and falling eight months late on promises to open up the bid process to contractors.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority initially promised to issue a Request for Proposals on the project by the end of 2015 en route to a scheduled opening date of 2020.

But both Michael Cautillo, the president and and Dwight Duncan, the interim board chair CEO of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, are walking away from that pledge. 

At a media tour of the early-works portion of the Canadian side of the bridge Cautillo dodged questions on the bridge's opening date and would not say when that RFP process would be released.

Construction on the early works phase of the bridge brought in more than 1-million tons of gravel. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Instead he said he wanted to show off the early work being done in Canada saying he wanted to dispel "myths" the project is spinning its wheels.

"We wanted to dispel the myths that nothing was happening," he said "If we would not have done the early works here and the surcharging of the site, then suddenly that activity would become a critical activity and delay the construction of the border project."  

So far about 1 million tonnes of gravel and 850-metres of wick drainage have been moved to the site at E.C Row and Ojibway Parkway.

The early works portion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will prepare the customs plaza for the Canadian side of the bridge. (Jason Viau/CBC)

"We're very happy in our project so far but I want to concentrate on the work that we've done on the bridge so far," he said.

In August, Duncan began pumping the brakes on the 2020 opening date, saying he wouldn't commit to any timelines except building the bridge "as soon as possible." He expressed concerns with efforts to acquire property in Detroit.

Most of those properties are owned by Manuel (Matty) Moroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge and has long been an opponent of efforts to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

But Thursday,  Andy Doctoroff, a special advisor on the project to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, said he's not worried.  

"What I can say, without reservation, is that in Michigan land acquisition is on schedule," Doctoroff said. "We began it approximately a year ago. We are where we expected to be. And as a result, there is no delay."

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