Longevity key in winning light-rail work: industry rep

Local businesses vying for contracts on Ottawa's $2.1-billion light-rail line should showcase their stamina when pitching to the prime contractors and their partners, says one construction official.

"This is a project that is going to last multiple years," says Dale Harley, a spokesperson for the National Capital Heavy Construction Association.

"You want to demonstrate that you are going to be someone who is going to be there for the long haul," adds Mr. Harley, who is one of the organizers of an upcoming LRT trade show that will be co-hosted by Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.

He says it is much easier to leave the impression that a company is financially stable and will still be in business a decade from now at an in-person meeting, than on paper in a price proposal or a letter of interest.

City officials have pre-qualified three consortiums, consisting of major infrastructure, construction and engineering firms. Mr. Harley says he expects subcontractors to start being signed up shortly after the contract is awarded, meaning local companies should be raising their profile with all three groups.

"(You) want to leave a positive impact on all three so that when the time comes ... they will be favourably disposed to someone to who they've been exposed to," says Mr. Harley.

City officials see the trade show as a way of assisting local companies land work on the light-rail line, which is largely regarded as one of the largest infrastructure projects in the city's history.

While laws prohibit giving preference to Ottawa-based companies, the project is nonetheless expected to provide years of work to local firms in a slew of sectors, including trucking, engineering, security and excavation, as well as their suppliers.

"It is probably going to be the biggest contract some of these companies ever have," says Mr. Harley.

The trade show is scheduled for Feb. 9 at the CE Centre.

As of the fall, the coalitions are:

Ottawa Transit Partners, led by VINCI Concessions, with ACCIONA Concessions Canada Inc., ACCIONA Infrastructure Canada Inc., Aecon Construction Group Inc., Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc., and VINCI Construction Grands Projets as prime team members.

Rideau Transit Group, led by ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc., with EllisDon Corporation, EllisDon Inc., Dragados Canada Inc., SNC-Lavalin Capital, SNC-Lavalin Constructors (Pacific) Inc., and Veolia Transportation Services Inc. as prime team members.

Rideau Transit Partners, led by Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A., with Brookfield Financial Corp., Fiera Axium Infrastructure Canada LP, Parsons Enterprises Inc., Parsons Canada Ltd., Colas Rail S.A. and Johnson Controls L.P. as prime team members.

Each team has until July to provide fixed-price bids to design, build, finance and maintain the LRT line. Officials will select the winning proposal late this year. City council will subsequently evaluate it before construction starts.

If all goes to plan, construction will start in the first quarter of 2013. Testing of the 12.5-kilometre, 13-station line is expected to start in 2017, and the first trains should run in 2018.