Dwight Duncan to chair WDBA as concerns surface about project’s final cost

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one of two designs for the bridge
One of the two design concepts for the new Detroit-Windsor bridge

Former Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan has been appointed as interim board chairman of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority as a report in the Windsor Star indicates concerns are starting to surface about the new border crossing’s likely final cost.

Dwight Duncan
Dwight Duncan

Meanwhile, the Star says the announcement of which three of the six companies interested in building the bridge have made a short list has been delayed until the new year.

The federal government said Duncan, 56, will lead the bridge authority of directors and more than 40 administrative employees overseeing the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

The bridge project, which includes plazas and a new feeder road to link with I-75 in Detroit, has long been given a $2.1 billion price tag. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has committed to completing the project but the Star says he is already speculating the steep decline of the Canadian dollar could drive up the cost.

“I have been very involved and passionate about the whole border issue going back almost 20 years,” Duncan said. “(The bridge) is the last major piece. For me, this is something I cannot only do for our community, but it’s also a very important infrastructure project for our country.”

Duncan said he’s hopeful that he will be able to continue as board chairman after the government goes through a formal selection process.

The government is “strongly committed” to keeping the Howe bridge project on schedule for its target opening date of 2020, he said.

Meanwhile, more details about the bridge’s design possibilities have emerged.

The bridge could end up as the tallest or second-tallest structure in the region, rivaling the height of the Renaissance Center and creating a dramatic new architectural icon on the skyline, the Detroit Free Press reported.

one of two designs for the bridge
One of the two design concepts for the new Detroit-Windsor bridge

“There are two possible designs — a suspension bridge like the Ambassador or a newer model known as a cable-stayed bridge that looks like a giant A-frame with cables fanning out from two towers. Final design will be left to the architectural team that has the winning bid from a group of interested international firms already winnowed down to six. The winning team will be selected late next year (2016).”

Other details provided by the bridge authority include:

  • About half a million tons of concrete will be used to construct the bridge, or roughly 25,000 cement truckloads.
  • Approximately 22,000 tons of steel will be used for the new bridge. Only steel produced in Canada and the U.S. will used.
  • Up to 5,000 tons of bridge cables will be used, which roughly equals the weight of 3,500 midsize cars.

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