Possible delays for Gordie Howe Bridge

The tolled six-lane cable-stayed bridge over the Detroit River will connect the city of Windsor in the Canadian province of Ontario with Detroit in the neighbouring US state of Michigan.
Highway & Network Management / November 15, 2022 1 minute Read
By David Arminas
Tower on the US side of the Detroit River, looking over the Canadian tower in Windsor, Ontario – July 2022 (image courtesy Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority)

Opening of the US$4.2 billion Gordie Howe Bridge between the US and Canada could be pushed back to August 2025, according to a Canadian newspaper.

The tolled six-lane cable-stayed bridge over the Detroit River will connect the city of Windsor in the Canadian province of Ontario with Detroit in the neighbouring US state of Michigan. Currently, the privately owned and tolled Ambassador Bridge is the major transportation link for goods between the two countries – the busiest commercial link for both nations. The bridge will also have a dedicated pedestrian and cyclist path.

The bridge is not a US-Canada project but is being built solely by Canada, funded by the federal and provincial governments. The joint venture of Bridging North America (BNA) - comprised of ACS Infrastructure Canada, Fluor Canada and Aecon Concessions - is private-sector construction partner of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, the international authority that is overseeing construction on behalf of the Canadian government.

WDBA is responsible for the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance of the Canadian and US Ports of Entry and the bridge. WDBA is also is responsibility for the design, build and finance of the Michigan Interchange under a public-private partnership agreement. The US state of Michigan will be responsible for the operations and maintenance of the Michigan Interchange.

A report by financial analyst S&P Global Ratings dated over a year ago estimated completion by April 25, 2025, thanks to construction delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. However, a subsequent report by S&P report completed two months ago obtained by the Star newspaper pushes completion back to the middle of August 2025.

The Star writes that BNA has requested relief from the contracted project completion date from the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority,. Talks with the authority are ongoing, according to the Star.

Problems have arisen, notes the report, around construction of the customs inspections plazas on the US and the Canadian sides as well as the 3km link road in Detroit to connect the bridge with the Interstate 75 Highway that runs out of the city. In particular, there are issues around siphon works, which in road construction usually redirect water away from or under a highway.

The bridge will have a clear span over the Detroit River of 853m - the longest main span of any cable-stayed bridge in North America - and will have no piers in the water. Once complete, the bridge will be among the top five longest bridges in North America.

In December 2021, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority and Bridging North America were awarded an Envision Platinum Award, the highest possible distinction from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, a Washington DC-based non-profit organisation founded by the American Public Works Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Council of Engineering Companies. The award recognises efforts to achieve sustainable development and environmental performance standards at every stage of an infrastructure project, from design to construction and implementation.

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