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A Boise, Idaho-based firm will manage construction of the $500 million expansion of General Motors' engine plant in Tonawanda.

Washington Group International, an engineering and construction company that has a long relationship with GM, will assemble the construction bid packages and manage the activity for the project, according to GM.

The expansion is expected to be completed in time for the 2004 model year. About 600 of the plant's workers will eventually be assigned to build what are expected to be new six-cylinder "inline" engines. GM has not yet announced specifics of what it will make.

Washington Group, formerly known as Morrison Knudsen, was rescued from insolvency in 1996 by Montana construction mogul Dennis Washington. It has more than 39,000 employees at work in 43 states and more than 35 countries, with revenues of more than $5 billion annually.

The company was recently chosen to manage the $600 million expansion of a Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. That contract was awarded to Rust Constructors, a unit of Washington Group.

Washington Group's automotive experience includes building the 4.2 million-square-foot Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. The company has also handled projects for GM in China, Thailand and Michigan; for Chrysler in Argentina and Brazil; for Ford in Vietnam and for Nissan in California.

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