Gordie Howe International Bridge construction progressing on time despite COVID-19 challenges

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1. The first concrete pour for the tower foundation at the Canadian Gordie Howe Bridge site.

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

It has been two years since contractors launched construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Despite COVID-19, the project is on target for opening in late 2024.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) signed a $5.7 billion (CDN) fixed-priced contract with Bridging North America (BNA), its private-sector partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

It is one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America and milestones on all four components of the project have been achieved since then.

“Despite the need to change the way we all both live and work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not slowed down. I would like to take this opportunity to thank WDBA and Bridging North America staff, as well as our contractors, for their dedication over the last two years,” said Bryce Phillips, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.

Progress achieved to date includes:

Canadian Port of Entry (POE)

  • Wick drain installation to help consolidate the soils for future building construction has been completed with 133,000 wick drains installed. The remainder of 2020 will see a number of earthworks activities including significant onsite movement of soil materials used as surcharge to help settle the underlaying soils and the installation of temporary and permanent stormwater retention ponds. Utility installations will continue over the coming months.

Bridge

  • Essential test shaft work for the bridge footings have been completed and construction of the tower foundations for the main bridge are now underway on both the Canadian and US bridge with the initial concrete pours already completed. Two massive tower cranes have been installed at both the Canadian and US bridge sites to aid in the construction of the two 220 metre/772 foot towers.

US Port of Entry (POE)

  • The site continues to be prepared for major construction with fence installation around the worksite and completion of the office trailers.
  • Roads within the POE footprint have been permanently closed to facilitate Phase One and Two and Three of construction.
  • Clearing and grubbing is complete and major earthworks have begun with more than 550,000 metric tonnes/1.2 billion pounds of engineered fill and surcharge material placed.
  • Approximately 80,000 wick drains (of 87,900) have been installed to accelerate the settlement of soils to expedite construction and limit long-term settlement.

Michigan Interchange

  • The demolition of five pedestrian bridges and three road bridges over I-75 is complete with the aesthetic design of the pedestrian bridges announced following public consultation.
  • Work over the next several months will focus on the reconstruction of the three new road bridges over I-75. The new bridges are anticipated to be complete in spring of 2021.

Environmental and Sustainability

  • There is an overarching sustainable approach to the design, construction, and operation of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project to minimize impacts throughout the project life.
  • The Canadian and US Port of Entry facilities are designed to meet LEED v4 Silver rating, and the Bridge and Michigan Interchange are designed to meet Envision Silver rating, both of which will ensure longevity while minimizing environmental impact.

Bridging North America has oriented over 2800 workers to the project in Canada and the U.S with 50 per cent of those being local. Over 150 local businesses have been engaged to date.

The most active period for construction on the project is expected to occur between 2021-2023, when approximately 70 per cent of total work hours will be expended.

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