'We have not slowed down': Gordie Howe bridge project progresses during pandemic
The Canadian Port of Entry for the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor, Ont., on Friday, Oct. 4, 2018. (MIchelle Maluske / CTV Windsor)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority says there has been significant progress on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials say major construction progress and work with communities on both sides of the border continue.
“Despite the need to change the way we all both live and work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not slowed down,” says bridge authority CEO Bryce Phillips. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank WDBA and Bridging North America staff, as well as our contractors, for their dedication over the last two years.”
Two years ago Monday, WDBA announced that it had signed a CDN$5.7 billion fixed-priced contract with Bridging North America, its private-sector partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the bridge project.
That announcement signified that construction could begin on one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America.
“Bridging North America is committed to completing the project safely in the midst of these unprecedented times,” says Aaron Epstein, CEO of Bridging North America. “Our partnership with WDBA remains strong and we appreciate the work of everyone involved at all levels of the project to ensure an innovative and best-in-class asset is delivered to the Detroit-Windsor community.””
Bridge authority officials say milestones on all four components of the project have been achieved since then.
WDBA says progress achieved to date includes:
Canadian Port of Entry (POE)
Wick drain installation to help consolidate the soils for future building construction has been completed with 133,000 wick drains installed. The remainder of 2020 will see a number of earthworks activities including significant onsite movement of soil materials used as surcharge to help settle the underlaying soils and the installation of temporary and permanent stormwater retention ponds. Utility installations will continue over the coming months.
Essential test shaft work for the bridge footings have been completed and construction of the tower foundations for the main bridge are now underway on both the Canadian and US bridge with the initial concrete pours already completed. Two massive tower cranes have been installed at both the Canadian and US bridge sites to aid in the construction of the two 220 metre/772 foot towers.
US Port of Entry (POE)
The site continues to be prepared for major construction with fence installation around the worksite and completion of the office trailers. Roads within the POE footprint have been permanently closed to facilitate Phase One and Two and Three of construction. Clearing and grubbing is complete and major earthworks have begun with more than 550,000 metric tonnes/1.2 billion pounds of engineered fill and surcharge material placed. Approximately 80,000 wick drains (of 87,900) have been installed to accelerate the settlement of soils to expedite construction and limit long-term settlement.
The demolition of five pedestrian bridges and three road bridges over I-75 is complete with the aesthetic design of
the pedestrian bridges announced following public consultation. Work over the next several months will focus on the reconstruction of the three new road bridges over I-75. The new bridges are anticipated to be complete in spring of 2021.
Environmental and Sustainability
There is an overarching sustainable approach to the design, construction, and operation of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project to minimize impacts throughout the project life. The Canadian and US Port of Entry facilities are designed to meet LEED v4 Silver rating, and the Bridge and Michigan Interchange are designed to meet Envision Silver rating, both of which will ensure longevity while minimizing environmental impact.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge team continues to meet virtually with delivery partners in both Canada and the US to move Community Benefits Plan initiatives forward, realizing some of the positive social, environmental and economic outcomes envisioned for the Sandwich and Southwest Detroit communities. Initiatives delivered include funds to community organizations, tools to support local engagement in the project procurement activities, and training support through co-operative learning experiences and union engagement.
The project team is holding online Community Meetings on Sept. 29 (Canada focused) and 30 (US focused), 2020, to inform the public about the latest design and construction updates for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
The bridge is expected to be in service by the end of 2024.