The construction of the Gordie Howe Bridge

11 September 2018

The Gordie Howe Bridge, connecting Canada and the US, must meet requirements on both sides of the border.

The Gordie Howe Bridge will cross the Detroit river to connect the Canadian city of Windsor with the US city of Detroit.

Adding capacity to the existing Ambassador Bridge, which is the busiest border crossing in North America, the new bridge and border facilities will improve traffic flow between the two countries, aiming to encourage economic growth on both sides of the river.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) was created to oversee the construction and operation of the bridge. Bridging North America (a consortium made up of ACS Dragados, Flour and Aecom) has been announced as its preferred bidder for a public-private partnership (P3) deal.

The winning consortium will construct a six-lane bridge, with options to expand in the future to eight lanes, ports of entry on the Canadian and US side and interchange works in Michigan, and will then operate the toll bridge.

Different laws and regulations

With any project that spans two jurisdictions, there are potential conflicts between the laws and regulations governing each side.

In the case of the Gordie Howe Bridge, these issues are somewhat simplified due to the fact that there is a clear Canadian lead for the project in the form of the WDBA which is a Canadian Crown corporation.

Insurance is one area where approaches differ from one side of the river to the other. The exposures are perceived as being different depending on what side you are on.

For example, liability insurance arranged for a Canadian project is generally significantly cheaper and broader than one for a US project.

One policy to suit all

The challenge is to find a competitive and robust solution that works for both territories under one policy with one panel of insurers, which is to the benefit of the insured in the event of claims.

Another challenging area for the winning bidder, and one which has delayed the bidding process, is how the project will deliver benefits to nearby communities.

Politicians in both cities are keen to secure jobs, training and neighbourhood improvements for their constituents.

WDBA has announced that a significant milestone was met with the selection of Bridging North America as the preferred bidder to design, build, finance operate and maintain the project.

Its design will see Gordie Howe International Bridge delivered as a cable stayed bridge.

For more information, please contact Naresh Dade, Partner on +44 (0)20 7528 4776