The B.C. government has picked a partnership of construction giants Acciona and Aecon to build the replacement for the aging Pattullo Bridge between Surrey and New Westminster.
Estimated at a cost of $1.377 billion, the new bridge and connecting roads are scheduled to be completed in 2023. Built north of the existing 83-year-old structure, the new bridge will still have only four vehicle lanes, plus pedestrian and bike lanes and a new off-ramp to Highway 17, the South Fraser Perimeter Road.
In a year-end interview with Black Press, Premier John Horgan said the Pattullo crossing is a higher priority than the congested George Massey Tunnel because the Pattullo is “falling into the river.” It is one of three projects designated by the NDP government’s “community benefits agreement” that requires construction workers to be a member of one of 19 mostly U.S.-based unions.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has acknowledged that the union-only deal would add about seven per cent to the cost of the project, or nearly $100 million in the case of the Pattullo.
Trevena and Horgan say the new public construction rules will result in more local hiring and use of apprentices. The Independent Contractors and Business Association cites statistics from the government’s Industry Training Authority showing three out of four apprentices are sponsored by open-shop companies, not building trades unions that run their own training facilities.
Acciona is a Spain-based multinational that is also a major contractor on the Site C dam in northern B.C. and the Walterdale Bridge in Edmonton. Its original bid was with a group including SNC Lavalin, but the Quebec-based company dropped out and the successful consortium with Aecon is called Fraser Crossing Partners.
Aecon Group is a long-established Ontario-based company that is building the Annacis Island wastewater treatment plant in Delta and has contracts for the Coastal GasLink pipeline across northern B.C., as well as refurbishing the John Hart Dam on Vancouver Island and the Darlingon nuclear plant in Ontario.
The Canadian government intervened in 2018 to block the sale of Aecon to China’s CCCI International Holding. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said at the time the decision was the result of a “multi-step national security review process.”
In a statement from its Chicago office Friday, Acciona said it and Aecon have been selected as the preferred proponent “to design, construct, and partially finance during construction” the new Pattullo Bridge.