The first step in choosing a group to design and build the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit is underway.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority announced today the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to select a private-sector partner is now available.

“Today’s announcement represents yet another major milestone for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project and the first stage in bringing our private sector partner on board,” said Mark McQueen, chairman of the WDBA board of directors.

“We anticipate international interest in this seminal project given the immense popularity of best-in-class global infrastructure assets, and look forward to seeing what the private sector has to offer.”

The authority says respondents will be evaluated on their experience and qualifications to deliver and finance large and complex projects.

“Our overarching goal is to build a safe, efficient bridge as fast as possible. The more financial and project risk that we can transfer to the eventual winning bidder, the better this procurement will be for Canadian taxpayers,” he said.

After an evaluation process, respondents will be invited to participate in the second stage of the procurement process – the Request for Proposals (RFP), expected in late 2015. The overall procurement process is expected to take up to 18 months.