Calgary’s Green Line CEO says the two consortia that have teamed up to bid for the city’s new LRT show that market confidence in the project is high.
The city announced Friday that Bow Transit Connectors, led by Canada’s Barnard Constructors, and City Link Partners, led by Aecon Infrastructure Management Inc., have qualified to bid for Phase 1 of the Green Line.
This phase of the project is expected to cost $5.5 billion and will include a tunnel under the city center.
Green Line CEO Darshpreet Bhatti said he couldn’t be happier with the result he has seen.
“Both teams are amalgamations of very strong partners, bringing a broad spectrum of all sorts of skill sets that we would need to see the Green Line successfully delivered,” said Bhatti.
He explained that in a project of this magnitude there are not many companies in the world that are qualified to assume it. Even then, it’s not unusual for multiple companies to get together and form consortiums to work on the deals, as happened here.
He said Barnard Constructors is known around the world for its tunneling expertise, while Aecon has a lot of experience with transit projects in particular.
Don Fairbairn, chairman of the Green Line board, said the two consortiums that qualified for the bid are very strong teams.
“With extensive competition due to record investment in global transit, having attracted their collective expertise is a huge endorsement of the project,” said Fairbairn.
In a statement, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Friday’s announcement was a very strong step for the Green Line and speaks to the work being done by the city to collaborate with industry to drive interest and investment.
Phase 1 of the Green Line will be the largest infrastructure project in Calgary’s history. The winning team will build the 18-kilometer core of the Green Line to support future expansion to the north and south.
Bhatti said there is a lot of major infrastructure work available around the world right now for companies like these, so having two qualified consortiums vying for the project shows the market sees promise in the project.
“We have a good governance structure and then we have all the financial partners lined up and we want to deliver on it,” Bhatti said. “It was a challenge. But over the last six or seven months, we’ve been able to get that message across very clearly to the market. And they responded.”
Faith in the project was not always so strong. In 2020, the province wavered in its commitment to share financing costs. In December 2020, the city halted the project due to those uncertainties.
The Green Line returned to normal last July, when the province gave its blessing and committed its share of $1.53 billion.
Because the project is so large and potentially complicated, companies had to apply just to qualify to bid.
The next step will come in the fall, as the Request for Proposals is sent to the two consortia at the end of September.
Bhatti said the city should have its proposals for the city by the end of the year, with one of the two receiving the contract in early 2023. That will launch the start of a year-long development phase.
He said it will be a bit unusual because the city will work closely with the winning firm during the design phase.
“In fact, we will have a complete view of how they will design and how they will fix it, which is not common in a traditional design build financing approach,” said Bhatti.
While the two consortiums are run by multinational companies, Bhatti said that once the project begins, hopefully in early 2024, it will be local businesses and subcontractors that will do much of the work, with local suppliers providing the materials.