Known during the first phases of development as the Detroit River International Crossing and the New International Trade Crossing, the Gordie Howe International Bridge project involves the construction of a cable-stayed international bridge across the Detroit River to connect Detroit and Windsor by linking Interstate 75 and Interstate 96 in Michigan with Highway 401 in Ontario through the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway extension of Highway 401.
Designed by Erik Behrens, the chief bridge architect of AECOM, the bridge has two “A”-shaped towers built on the banks of the Detroit River, six lanes for automotive traffic, and a cycle and walking path. It is 2.5 kilometers long and has the longest main span of any cable-stayed bridge in North America at 853 meters.
The project also includes the construction of new, state-of-the-art Ports of Entry (Port of Entry) on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the Detroit River. The US POE will be situated on a 60ha area and will include border inspection and maintenance facilities, along with tolling operations while the Canadian POE will cover a 53ha piece of land and it will be equipped with border inspection facilities for passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as maintenance facilities and the tolling operation.
It also includes the improvement of Michigan Interchange. The latter will have connecting ramps to and from the US POE and it will comprise the addition of four new crossing road bridges, five new pedestrian bridges, and four bridges crossing the railway and connecting the I-75 to the US POE.
Gordie Howe International Bridge Project timeline
On April 12, 2013, the US Department of State and the Obama Administration granted Michigan the permit required to build the bridge, and on the 22nd month of the following month, the Canadian government allocated US$ 25M to begin land acquisition on the Detroit side.
A Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA), with three representatives from each of the involved states, was appointed on July 30, 2014.
In January 2015, Parsons Corporation was named the general engineering consultant for the bridge project and on February 18, the same year, Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt announced that Canada would fund the construction of a customs plaza on the U.S. side of the bridge in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood.
Amico Infrastructures was awarded a US$ 60M contract for early preparatory works at the Gordie Howe International bridge site in September.
In July 2015, WDBA began the procurement process to select a private-sector partner to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the bridge project, and in November, it issued a request for proposals inviting proponents to submit proposals to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the construction of the bridge over the Detroit River.
On July 5, 2018, it was announced that the Bridging North America consortium, which consists of AECOM for design; Dragados Canada, Fluor Corporation, and Aecon for construction; and ACS Infrastructure, Fluor, and Aecon for operations and maintenance of the bridge and the two ports of entry.
Financial close was reached on September 28, 2018, and on July 17, 2018, early works for the project in Detroit begun. A ceremony to mark the start of the construction was held on October 5, 2018, at the future Canadian port of entry.
In December 2020 construction of the main bridge tower footings were completed on the Canadian site, with work beginning on the bridge towers. The US site tower footings would be complete in a few weeks from the date of the revelation.
On July 1, 2021, the Gordie Howe International Bridge team marked 1000 days since the start of construction and celebrated the completion of all drilled shafts and footings for the Main Bridge, both for Towers, anchor, and side span piers.
“Pier and tower shafts are starting to grow, Gordie Howe International Bridge keeps moving,” said Juan Antonio Navarro González-Valerio, CFC project manager for the bridge.
During an online community meeting hosted by Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority on 7th October 2021, Mark Butler, the authorities spokesperson reached that the towers that will support the new six-lane cable-stayed had reached 70 meters height, which is only one-third of the tower’s height when fully completed, on both sides of the Detroit River.
The spokesperson also mentioned that the construction of several buildings on the Canadian plaza, including the maintenance building that will hold equipment and the main customs building for the Canadian side is also moving on swiftly.
“On the Detroit side, work is advanced on completion of a new I-75 freeway interchange that will connect to the new bridge, while early works on preparation of the plaza and U.S. customs inspection building are also underway,” said Mr. Butler.