It has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for parties interested in delivering the bridge under a public-private partnership that involves designing, building, partially financing, operating, maintaining and rehabilitating the crossing for a term of 30 years.
Following the RFQ, the government will request proposals from a shortlist of the three best-qualified teams in order to select a preferred proponent.
The conceptual design is for a cable-stayed bridge and the cost of the project has been estimated at US$2.7 billion. Consultation has indicated strong public support for the project (link opens in new tab).
Transportation Investment Corporation (TI Corp) will be in charge of the project and recover project costs through user tolls. The private partner will be responsible for financing a portion of the capital costs of the project.
The main aspect of the scheme is the construction of a 10-lane bridge, with four general travel lanes and one dedicated lane in each direction for transit/high-occupancy vehicles. Work also includes the replacement of three interchanges, the widening of approximately 24km of highway to accommodate dedicated transit/HOV lanes, replacement of the Deas Slough Bridge, construction of paths and decommissioning of the tunnel.
The bridge is seen as offering both cost and environmental benefits over a tunnel. The new bridge will be designed to withstand a 1-in-2475-year seismic event. Building a tunnel to the same required standards is a much more costly, complex and environmentally invasive process, according to the client, involving river-bottom dredging and bringing in layers of sand, gravel and loose stone to reinforce the earth onshore and in the Fraser River below the water. Unlike in the 1950s when the current tunnel was built, the pile driving equipment available today makes installation of deep-piled foundations for a bridge a practical and cost-effective solution.
Construction is expected to start next year, with the bridge opening in 2022 and tunnel being decommissioned in 2023.