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Deh Cho bridge tenders delayed

Jack Danylchuk
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 16/05) - The withdrawal of one of four competitors for the Deh Cho Bridge project may be the first sign that $60 million won't be enough to span the Mackenzie River.

Kees Cusveller, spokesperson for Graham Construction and Engineering Inc., said the Calgary-based company dropped out because "it's too big of a job and too remote."

Three companies that remain - SNC Lavalin Inc., Peter Kiewit and Sons Co. Ltd. and American Bridge - sought and received an extra six weeks to complete their bids.

"We've got tons of work in Calgary and Edmonton, so rather than ship guys out to the boondocks we opted to pass on it," he said.

Cusveller said that the company didn't get far enough into the process to determine if the two-year-old estimate of $60 million is still accurate.

"But right now everything is over-budget, so it wouldn't surprise me if that comes in higher," he said. "That's just my opinion, but it's based on what we're seeing everywhere else."

Andrew Gamble, project manager for the Deh Cho Bridge Corp., warned in November that a cost increase that would force toll rates above $5-$6 per ton would kill the project.

The bids were due this month, but Michael Nadli, Deh Cho Bridge Corp.'s chief operating officer, said companies have until Jan. 20 to bid.

"They're saying give us more time and we'll get back to you with a more meaningful bid," Nadli said this week.

The project requires approval from the Bridge Corp., the territorial government, which is guaranteeing the loan, and TD Securities.

Work would start this spring and the first traffic would roll across the bridge in late 2008 - three years later than originally anticipated.

- with a file from Derek Neary