Construction in full swing for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project

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As the concrete support towers on both sides of the Detroit River rise into the sky, it has become visually evident that construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge has reached its climax and is well on its way to the long-awaited opening. from the border post to traffic.

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“The design-build phase of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project is well advanced and construction activity continues on both sides of the border on all components of the project – the Canadian and US ports of entry, the Michigan and, of course, the bridge itself, ”said Mark Butler, spokesperson for the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, which is overseeing the construction.

“We are concentrating our efforts on the construction of the towers of the bridge which now exceed 100 meters in height. Construction of the buildings and facilities (of the square) has started and will continue over the next few years. On the Michigan interchange (connection to the I-75 freeway), work continues to focus on rebuilding highway bridges.

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I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Bridging North America team over the past year.

The towers that support the bridge – although currently having reached the equivalent of a 33-story building – are only halfway to their final height of 220 meters.

The construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor is presented on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor is presented on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Once they have reached their final height, the installation of the “cable duct” that will support the six-lane cable-stayed bridge is “arguably more complex”, so it will take some time before the actual installation of the deck. of the bridge could begin – not scheduled to occur until the first half of 2023, Butler said.

Currently on the Canadian side, apart from the towers, construction has started on several of the various customs, maintenance and other buildings that will be located on the square in Windsor.

“This includes the installation of interior plumbing and electrical installations on the energy and maintenance buildings, the erection and details of the steel framing on the main building, waterproofing, backfilling and utilities. subways for the secondary inspection building and the reinforcing steel and formwork, as well as the concrete placements for the foundation piers and footings of the customer’s processing building, ”said Butler.

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In Detroit, in the community of Delray, which will host the Place du Howe Bridge, in addition to the new freeway interchange and the first construction of a new three-kilometer service road to connect to I-75, some site drainage, as well as the excavation and installation of the foundations and pillars of the main building of the plaza and the commercial building are in progress.

The construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor is presented on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor is presented on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on construction, but the project’s contractor – a consortium of global companies known as Bridging North America – “continues to work until its opening date. contractual at the end of 2024, ”said Butler.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to adjust the way they operate to ensure that government directives and measures (health) are taken to ensure the safety of our workers, contractors and the general public,” he said. -he declares.

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“We are still (dealing with) the impact the pandemic could have on the project schedule. Over the next few months, our construction schedule may need to change. The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority and Bridging North America are taking action to help alleviate any disruption to the project schedule.

The number of workers employed on the project continues to increase. On the Canadian side, there are 600 workers, including 300 employees of Bridging North America, while on the Michigan side, there are currently 800 workers, including 450 employees of Bridging North America.

Butler expects the peak number of jobs to occur in the coming year and into 2023.

The construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor is presented on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor is presented on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Over the next several months, spectators can expect to see the Twin Towers on either side meet and expand upwards, as road works begin on the approaches leading to the bridge.

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“I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Bridging North America team over the past year,” said Michael Hatchell, CEO of Bridging North America. “Our health and safety accomplishments in 2021 – such as the John A Beck Award, Four Million Lost-Time Injury Free Hours – as well as meeting COVID health and safety protocols with a strong workforce. ‘equally important work in Canada and the United States. “

As for Butler, who for nearly two decades was the primary voice and local face of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge project, he is retiring.

“I have worked on the project for the past 17 years in different capacities, starting with the environmental review process,” he said. “It has been a great honor to have worked with such a dedicated group of people on both sides of the border over the years.

“Being part of a historic project has been the highlight of my career. I will miss it, but I will be closely monitoring the progress of the Gordie Howe International Bridge Online project until its completion.

dbattagelo@postmedia.com

The U.S. portion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge Tower is shown from Windsor on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The U.S. portion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge Tower is shown from Windsor on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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