Italian infrastructure contractor Salini Impregilo is part of a consortium selected for the $1.15-billion Hurontario light rail transit project in Mississauga, Ont. The public-private project is one of the first big wins for the Milan-based infrastructure giant since formally announcing plans to purchase a controlling interest in its financially struggling Italian counterpart, Astaldi, this past August. 

The consortium, led by global infrastructure owner-developer John Laing Investments Ltd., will design, build and finance the new 18-km, 19-stop light rail transit line located in a separated guideway along Hurontario Street from Port Credit to the Brampton Gateway Terminal. Upon the project’s completion in 2024, the consortium will have a 30-year contract to operate and maintain the system, which is expected to serve up to 14 million passengers annually.

Salini Impregilo has a 42% stake in the construction joint-venture, according to a company-issued statement, and will lead engineering, procurement and build-out. Astaldi has a 28% stake in the project. Canadian construction partners include Hitachi Rail STS Canada Inc.; Amico Infrastructures Inc.; and Bot Infrastructure Ltd.

Astaldi was rescued from financial collapse this summer when Salini Impregilo offered to purchase a 65% stake in the company as part of CEO Pietro Salini’s “Project Italy,” an effort to create a conglomerate with the scale and resources to compete for infrastructure opportunities overseas. While the companies remain separate entities, Salini Impregilo hopes to conclude the transaction next year, according to a company spokesperson.

Although Salini Impregilo’s last project in Canada was completed three decades ago, Astaldi has been active in the country’s hydroelectric, urban transport and civil building sectors since 2012. One of its most recent projects, a $1-billion contract to construct a powerhouse, transition dam and spillway at the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador, has been fraught with delays and cost overruns, some of which were attributed to Astaldi’s recent financial woes. According to Canadian media reports, the company has yet to pay project owner, Nalcor Energy, more than $437,000 in legal fees resulting from an arbitration agreement.

The Hurontario LRT project is also another milestone in Salini Impregilo’s drive to expand its presence in North America. In September, the company and its U.S. subsidiary, Lane Construction, were tapped to design and build the new 240-mile high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston. The $14 billion project includes viaduct and embankment sections along the entire route, track system installation, buildings for housing maintenance and support equipment.

Pietro Salini said the Texas project, “will allow us to bring our experience and know-how in high-speed railways to the United States.”