By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team has launched a new stage in bridge construction, beginning installation of the stay cables that will connect the towers to the bridge and road deck. The first two of 216 stay cables installed on the US side of the bridge over the week of Jan. 16.
“The first stay cable installations are a significant achievement for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project,” says Bridging North America CEO Michael Hatchell. “Bridging North America has been able to reach this point in the project safely and efficiently and we are extremely pleased with the work of our team.”
A stay cable is comprised of rope-like metal strands housed in a pipe. Installation for each pair of stay cables will take about two-to-five days and once a pair of stay cables is securely anchored, the workers will move on the next pair in a sequential manner. . The ends of each metal strand inside the pipe are stressed and anchored to two points – an anchor box inside the tower and an edge girder on the deck.
In a cable-stayed bridge design, the cables serve two purposes – they deliver the weight of the entire structure to the tower and, through tension, maintain the bridge deck’s stability and placement. The towers and stay cables of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will be capable of supporting nearly 34 million pounds of weight.
“With each new stage of construction, the distinctive design of this cable-stayed bridge takes shape. As the stay cables are installed, the Gordie Howe International Bridge’s inspiring, modern and elegant features will become more visible for residents of Windsor and Detroit.”
The Gordie Howe International Bridge will include 216 stay cables – 108 pairs connecting from each tower to the bridge and road deck – when completed.
Between 38 and 122 metal strands of cable will be fed inside a weather-resistant, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pipe to make up each stay cable. More than 16,000 metal strands will be used.
If laid end-to-end, the metal strands would measure approximately 5,000 kilometres/3,107 miles in length. That is the same distance as a round-trip from Windsor, Ontario, to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Once complete, the Gordie Howe International Bridge will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America and the tenth longest in the world.