Quebec to tap private investors for toll road project

| Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The transportation minister for the Canadian province of Quebec has received four responses to the government's request for proposals to design, build and maintain a toll road in the Montreal area.

The government sought the proposals as part of a plan to extend Autoroute 30 to bypass Montreal on the south side of the St. Lawrence River by 2009.

A press release issued in late 2006 by the Quebec Transportation Ministry stated the project would indeed be a toll road. A follow-up release last week stated that the road will be funded and built through a public-private partnership.

Some of the companies on the list of potential bidders are familiar to Land Line readers, because they already operate and maintain U.S. toll roads such as the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road.

One of the proposals submitted for the Quebec road came from a consortium called Infras-Quebec A-30, which is composed of Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia and a handful of Canadian companies. Macquarie is half of the investment consortium that leased the Indiana Toll Road in 2006.

The other half of the consortium involved in the Indiana deal - Cintra Concessiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte of Spain - also submitted a proposal to build the Quebec project under the name Consortium Autoroutes du Quebec.

Cintra and Macquarie are already known in Canada for their majority control of the 407 Express Toll Route in Toronto in the neighboring province of Ontario.

The third firm that submitted a proposal for the Quebec project is SNC-Lavelin, a Canadian-based company with a minority interest in the 407 ETR.

The fourth potential bidder for the Autoroute 30 extension is called Nouvelle Autoroute 30, which includes the Spanish companies of Acciona S.A. and Iridium Concessiones de Infraestructuras S.A. as the main partners.

Requests for proposals for the Quebec project were due Jan. 17.

Quebec Transportation Ministry officials will go through several steps to review the proposals before approving a public-private partnership. Quebec allows such partnerships under provincial law with legislative approval.

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