What does it take for a local electricity distribution company to help build the economic futures of two nations and bridge a gap between businesses — on a global scale?
It takes partnership.
Just ask Tony Cinelli, Hydro Engineering Technologist at ENWIN Utilities Ltd., in Windsor, Ontario. Tony is part of the ENWIN team responsible for coordinating the electrical infrastructure installation to support a new Canadian gateway to the USA.
As a long-time member of the planning and implementation team building a six-lane, 2.5 km bridge from Windsor to Detroit, he has witnessed, firsthand, what it takes.
Along with dozens of employees in multiple departments across ENWIN, Tony is working with numerous external partners to build the capacity needed to support the local community — and the new international access point — well into the future.
Over the past several years, the ENWIN team has worked with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Ontario to extend Hwy 401 and Hwy 3 to accommodate future traffic flow. They have also helped to build the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway — an 11km corridor that will connect the existing 401 Highway to the Canadian port of entry at the new Gordie Howe International Bridge.
Today, ENWIN is working with Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) — a Canadian Crown corporation — to install the electrical infrastructure for the Canadian plaza that will eventually connect these highways with the new bridge.
In all these projects ENWIN has been called upon to remove, replace or build electrical infrastructure, including above ground and underground cables, transformers and switches. It is the utility’s job to ensure that the design is adequate to meet anticipated community needs for the next 40 years. But it is far more complicated than that.
Building a bridge between nations takes years of planning, dozens of partners, thousands of meetings and daily adjustments to accommodate the challenges of a project involving multiple utilities, government agencies and businesses.
It means new roads and highways, access plazas, utility infrastructure and then, of course, the bridge itself.
On the electricity front alone, it means moving or building underground and overhead infrastructure: transformers, switching and metering units, streetlights, manholes and many, many kilometres of cable.
It takes teamwork.
It takes teamwork and collaboration — numerous needs, feasibility and environmental studies, rigorous approvals processes and dedication at all levels — both within each participating company and across national borders.
Partnership has been vital to ENWIN’s work on the project, with weekly planning talks between the participants beginning more than a year before the first shovel hit the ground.
To ensure that ENWIN continues to consider the needs of all, the engineering team still meets every two weeks with employees from WDBA, the City of Windsor, Hydro One, federal and provincial government agencies, other utility companies, private businesses, contractors, engineering companies and environmental groups.
“Collaboration is the key,” Tony explains. “There is no single part of the project that belongs to ENWIN alone. Moving a single pole is a monumental undertaking when everything we do affects our partners’ work.”
Nick Liburdi, Electrical Engineer for WDBA, agrees. It is his job to manage the electrical design for the ports of entry in Canada and the US, and for the bridge itself.
We appreciate partners like ENWIN.
“We appreciate partners like ENWIN, who understand the complexity of this undertaking and support our needs,” he said.“It has been a great partnership.”
Tony speaks frequently with Nick and others involved in the project, to make sure ENWIN’s plans coordinate with those of its partners.
He is proud to be a partner in one of the most significant infrastructure projects in North American history — proud of his role in creating a new connection between Canada and the United States — and proud of the project’s potential to contribute to the global exchange of ideas, goods and commerce.
The sentiment is echoed by ENWIN President and CEO, Helga Reidel.
We are constructing a legacy for our community.
“ENWIN is privileged to be part of future-building on a very significant scale,” she said.“We are constructing a legacy for our community and at the same time supporting a bilateral trading connection that is vital to the future of our countries.”
Mayor Drew Dilkens agrees.
“To say this is an important event at a local level would be a distinct understatement,” he commented. “Along with obvious benefits, such as reduced commercial traffic on our city streets and economic opportunities for Windsor and Detroit, the project will continue Windsor’s legacy as a key point of entry for goods traded between our nations.”
The continuation of Windsor’s legacy will ultimately enhance international trade and encourage growth in important sectors, including automobile manufacturing. Completion of the bridge will maintain Windsor’s bragging right as the largest commercial trading access point on the Canada-US border, and one of the largest in North America.
“The Gordie Howe International Bridge is historic. It will literally change the landscape of Windsor and Detroit,” concludes André Juneau, the Interim Chief Executive Officer of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.
“It is a bridge to our future and will encourage new investment between Canada and the United States and help to maintain and create thousands of jobs and opportunities on both sides of the border.”
I will be proud that I was a part of it.
Tony says that every time he drives the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway, he is proud to remember that his company helped to create that piece of the project.
Years from now, when he crosses the port of entry, he expects he will still feel the same way. “I will be proud that I was a part of it,” he concluded.“We helped to tie two countries together, and that’s a powerful thing.”
So, that’s what it means to build a bridge between two nations. It’s a lasting legacy, built on the power of partnership.
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