Gordie Howe International Bridge will begin construction this month

Posted at 10:53 AM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 17:50:27-04

A who’s who of Canadian politicians gathered in Windsor, Ontario early Thursday morning to unveil the company that will oversee the construction, operation and upkeep of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in the years to come.

While financial details are not expected to be released until late September, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) announced that Bridging North America has been chosen as the private partner to complete the newest international crossing between the United States and Canada.

“This is history in the making,” said Dwight Duncan, the chairperson who made the announcement.

“Construction of the long-awaited Gordie Howe International Bridge will begin later this month. I’m very proud to be here today, to be part of it and to share this announcement with you and I look forward to the exciting building of our new bridge which will bridge our two communities and our two countries,” Duncan added. 

A surprise announcement followed the unveiling of Bridging North America’s selection for the job — the team working on the bridge announced that the Gordie Howe International bridge will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in all of North America.

A conceptual image was released that boasts towers that are said to rival the height of the GM Renaissance Center. The bridge itself will span longer than 850 meters or roughly 2,800 feet.

That said, the bridge won’t come without challenges. Duncan noted during a question-and-answer segment with media that they’ve already had roughly 25 legal challenges to date.

“We’ve won every lawsuit, and I anticipate more,” Duncan said.

MDOT still has work to do on its end, according to an update at the unveiling roughly 95 percent of the parcels on the American side of the bridge have been purchased. To complete the port of entry project on the Michigan side of the bridge, more than 250 parcels had to be bought.

Asked whether the unfinished purchasing would cause any delays in construction, a spokesperson for the WDBA said that things are moving along at this time and pointed out that they’ve made great strides in the past few weeks, and that work would continue as soon as today to finish the remaining purchases that need to be made.

"It's more modern looking," WDBA Spokesperson Mark Butler said.

As for the project itself, additional details about the port of entries and the bridge came with Thursday’s announcement. Among the notable items: the bridge will include six lanes and a portion for bicycle/pedestrian traffic, the lifespan for the bridge is estimated at 125 years, and the port of entries will be among the largest for both the United States and Canada.

Construction work has already begun on the Canadian side of the border. That work included raising the level of the construction site and bringing in specialists to move evasive species ahead of construction.

Advanced work is expected to start in Michigan this month.

Questions remain about how many local workers will be involved in the building of the bridge, however, multiple representatives of the companies involved said that local workers will be top of mind during construction.

That being said, when asked whether a percentage of workers that are expected to be local or even a ballpark number could be produced, no number could be given.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge project is planned to bridge Detroit and Windsor by linking Interstate 75 and Interstate 96 in Michigan with the new extension of Highway 401 in Windsor — a road that was built in anticipation of the new border crossing.

Dwight Duncan explained,”Bridging our two countries, which will bridge our communities, which will provide jobs and economic growth for all of us on both sides of the border.

“We have fought off every challenge imaginable. I can assure you that the governments of Canada and Michigan, the signatories of this, remain committed,” Duncan added.

Bridging North America, the partner selected for the project, is a partnership that was created between two companies to compete for the bid to design, construct and operate the new international bridge. The partnership consists of Fluor Corporation and ACS Infrastructure Canada.

Though not present at the announcement, Governor Snyder reacted to the bridge announcement in writing stating that the bridge will bring thousands of jobs to Michigan.

“It greatly enhances our supply chain and will create economic opportunities and growth in ways many people have not yet fully realized,” said Snyder.

Further details about the design, and cost, of the bridge are expected later this year.