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Windsor Essex Parkway deal in place

Ron Stang

Officials from Infrastructure Ontario and Ontario Ministry of Transportation have reached financial close earlier than planned with the consortium building the Windsor Essex Parkway.

WINDSOR, Ont.

Officials from Infrastructure Ontario and Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) have reached financial close earlier than planned with the consortium building the Windsor Essex Parkway.

Last week, they announced a final financing deal on an alternative financing and procurement (AFP) model that will transfer all risks over a 30-year contract to the builder, Windsor Essex Mobility Group (WEMG).

When WEMG was selected last month, it was thought financial details would be announced in early 2011.

Now that the deal is in place, construction is slated to begin late next summer on the 11-kilometre, six-lane expressway along with two, two-lane service roads.

Garfield Dales, manager of MTO’s project delivery office, calls it “the most significant highway project in Ontario’s history.”

The AFP model means the consortium — made up of international, national and local players and led by Spanish infrastructure giant ACS — will be responsible for design, construction and maintenance over 30 years at the fixed $1.4 billion paid by the province in current dollars, rising to $2.2 billion over the life of the contract.

WEMG will be responsible not just for the freeway, which will connect Hwy. 401 to a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit, but also the 300 acres of parkland and recreational trails that will be constructed on top of 11 tunnels and the highway route.

ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. is already building the A30 Montreal bypass and Vancouver’s South Fraser Perimeter Road.

Others senior partners are Spain’s Acciona and Fluor Canada Ltd. Tunnelling firm Hatch Mott MacDonald has a Windsor office, along with local players Amico, Dillon Consulting, LEA, AMEC and Black & McDonald electrical.

ACS vice-president of finance Cristina Rives said the closure means the project’s cost is a “fixed price and there’s no possibility of having that increased, (otherwise) we will have to support it ourselves.”

The province also announced the first agreement with Labourer’s Union Local 625 while it works on reaching agreements with other labour groups.

It’s estimated the parkway will help support 12,000 project-related jobs, with the majority in the Windsor-Essex region.

At the peak of construction, an estimated 1,300 workers are expected to be on site.

Rives said WEMG will open a local office early next year. Updated tendering and employment information is available at www.weparkway.ca.

Dwayne Dawson of Amico, president of the Windsor Heavy Construction Association, said the project can now really move forward.

Dawson said local employment is “going to be close to being able to fulfill” heavy work like excavation and sewers. But labour from elsewhere will be needed for bridge and tunnel work.

Completion is expected in fall 2014.

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