Gordie Howe Bridge Phase Two Prep Begins


Detroit’s proposed Gordie Howe International Bridge will be under construction by summer 2018, and the last contracts for the preparation of the Canadian side of the span have been issued, according to the governmental authority set up to build the border-crossing bridge.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority announced Monday (May 1) that it issued $86 million in contracts related to Phase Two of prep work at the Canadian port of entry for the bridge, which is planned to span the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. That work includes removing transmission towers and relocating power transmission cables underground, in concrete-encased duct banks, the authority says. Other towers will simply be relocated.

About the Bridge

The Gordie Howe International Bridge has been in the planning stages for more than a decade, having first been proposed in 2004. Last November, the WDBA announced it had issued a request for proposals to three teams that had been chosen through an earlier request-for-qualifications process, for the bridge’s design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance. The RFP process is expected to take 18 months.

Tower construction

Part of the preparation at the Canadian port of entry involves the relocation of transmission towers and cables.

The bridge will either take the form of a cable-stayed or suspension bridge, with two basic designs still in play at this time. The team that wins the contract will make the final decision on what form the bridge will take. Earlier this year, the WDBA released plans for a pedestrian and bicycle element to the bridge and both ports of entry.

The total cost of the bridge has not been officially announced, though in early 2016, reports indicated that the price tag could come to about CA$4.8 billion (about $3.4 billion, according to the exchange rate at the time).

Resistance from Moroun

The Gordie Howe International Bridge would be the second above-ground crossing between Detroit and Windsor, joining the privately owned Ambassador Bridge. Ambassador owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun has waged an extended campaign of lawsuits in an attempt to stop the new span, which has the potential to siphon traffic away from his bridge, which is the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing in terms of trade volume.

Multi use path

Earlier this year, the WDBA released plans for a pedestrian and bicycle element to the bridge and both ports of entry.

Moroun, who owns some of the property that the WDBA needs to acquire in order to build the American-side approaches to the Gordie Howe, is expected to continue to resist the authority’s attempts to go through with the project. According to the CBC, WDBA Chairman Dwight Duncan is prepared to go toe-to-toe with Moroun: "We will win," he told the broadcaster with regard to Moroun. "Bring it on."

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which was completed in 1930, also provides for access between Detroit and Windsor, but because of the tunnel’s 12-foot, 8-inch clearance, 95 percent of its traffic is cars.

Bridge Timeline

The WDBA says it expects Phase Two prep work on the Canadian side to wrap up by mid-2018, and construction on the bridge itself to begin next summer. At a meeting Friday detailing the WDBA's past fiscal year, the authority announced it had spent $22 million acquiring properties in Detroit that are necessary for the bridge to come to fruition. Some properties are still in Moroun’s hands, however.

The bridge is expected to be finished by 2020.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Design build; Government; North America; Program/Project Management; Public-private partnerships (P3)

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