'It has been delayed': Gordie Howe Bridge constructor looks to get back on track as WDBA delivers more community benefits
The timeline to complete the Gordie Howe International Bridge has been delayed by the pandemic, according to the contractor overseeing construction.
Neither the contractor nor the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) will confirm exactly how much of a delay was caused.
“The pandemic has had an impact, we’re working with WDBA to get that back in line,” said Michael Hatchell, the CEO of Bridging North America. “It has been delayed, we’re working to get it back as close to the November, 2024 timeframe.”
The WDBA is also currently working without a chief executive officer.
Former CEO Bryce Phillips resigned in early January for undisclosed reasons and now, a team of four vice-presidents and the board of directors is managing the project.
“The government of Canada is currently undertaking a process to identify or select a new CEO for Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority,” said Heather Grondin, the vice president of corporate affairs and external communications.
Despite this, some major construction milestones are on the horizon.
The main pylon towers on both sides of the Detroit River are almost at peak height, expected to reach that mark by the summer.
The work to build the bridge deck across the river is about to begin.
“By the end of this year will be over probably over 200 metere out into the river, cantilevered out on each side, working towards the centre,” said Hatchell, noting the progress will really become visible to onlookers in the Spring.
Community members pose for a photo at the Gordie Howe International Bridge community benefits presentation in Windsor, Ont. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Rich Garton/CTV News Windsor)The WDBA project team is delivering on one of its other core mandates — community benefits.
“We always approach the Gordie Howe International Bridge Project like it's more than just the bridge. We understand that this is a project that's changing the communities,” said Grondin.
The bridge authority announced Wednesday an additional $2.3 million in new benefits for 11 organizations on both sides of the river. Included in that funding is the ‘Girls Program’ at Sandwich Teen Action Group (STAG).
“Usually we have a budget to just scratch the surface or just below the surface, but this kind of funding will allow us to delve really deep into some of the roots of what’s going on with the girls and how to prepare them more for their lives,” said STAG executive director, John Elliott.
The funding is part of the Neighbourhood Infrastructure Strategy. The $2.3 million will be invested into four community priority areas:
- $1.1 million for Community Partnerships
- $659,600 for Economic Benefits
- $400,000 for Community Safety and Connections
- $142,000 for Aesthetics and Landscaping.
To date, the bridge authority has handed out nearly $17 million in community benefits through 40 initiatives. Five of those initiatives are considered complete.
The authority has held back $3 million for the final investment into host communities, which will be announced in early 2024.
“You’re building a bridge, but you’re also building a bridge into our communities, through relationships, through the money part of it,” said Elliott. “And then everyone wins.”
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