Work On Gordie Howe Bridge Progresses
In preparation for construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, demolition and site-clearing work have commenced in a stretch of Detroit, according to reports. Other work on the Michigan side of the project is also starting to take shape.
According to Crain’s Detroit Business, test shafts, which will help determine final design, are currently being drilled into the ground.
Gordie Howe Project History
The Gordie Howe International Bridge has been in the planning stages for more than a decade, having first been proposed in 2004. In 2012, former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder worked out a deal with Canada to construct a new bridge that would provide an additional crossing between Detroit and Windsor. By 2013, President Barack Obama gave federal approval for the project.
In November 2016, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority 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 was expected to take 18 months.
However, a few months following the announcement, six companies owned by the Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge (the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in terms of trade volume), tried to sue Snyder alleging that he acted illegally when he worked out a deal with the Canadian government to fund construction on the American side of the bridge, without the approval of the Michigan legislature, in order to halt construction.
Demolition and site-cleaning work for the Gordie Howe International Bridge is in full swing this summer.https://t.co/CuJWTnpykR pic.twitter.com/A19wg12J5n— Crain's Detroit Business (@crainsdetroit) July 14, 2019
This wasn’t the first time Manuel “Matty” Moroun tried to block the Gordie Howe Bridge: Earlier that same year, a federal judge dismissed a suit the Detroit International Bridge Co. filed arguing that the federal approval of the bridge was unconstitutional. The same judge ruled that several other arguments Moroun made against the construction were invalid in 2015 as well.
Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. determined that an agreement made by the state governor with the Canadian government to construct another international bridge was valid, despite the Ambassador owner’s claims to the contrary.
Though the project has faced a number of other legal steps and issues, by October, a $4.4 billion contract for the Gordie Howe Bridge was finalized and a competition date was slated for 2024. Construction officially broke ground on Oct. 5, 2018, with a ceremony attended by both Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In January, the Michigan Supreme Court blocked a May appeal from Moroun. Last month, Michigan House Republicans announced a budget plan that prohibits the Michigan Department of Transportation from using taxpayer money for the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, regardless of Canada’s claim to reimburse the state for all relevant expenses.
Currently, excavators are being used to develop the 167 acres that will become the U.S. Port of Entry customs plaza. Seawall that runs along the Detroit River is also being shored up. In total, around 255 buildings were demolished to begin construction on the international crossing.
"We're looking at over the course of the next month or so having another 10-15 contracts we're going to put out on the street for bids. ... A lot of dirt work contracts for the earth work that has to go on," said Aaron Epstein, CEO of Bridging North America, the consortium working on the project. (The consortium declined to name the subcontractors working on the project, though it is known that at least 40 Michigan-based companies are working on the endeavor.)
River Rouge, an industrial Detroit suburb, also recently announced its hopes to provide a unique view of construction: An observation deck will be built at Belanger Park, a move that is part of a larger community benefits plan connected with the project.
The deck will feature picture-taking areas, binoculars and a camera that will live-stream construction. The community benefits package focuses on employing Windsor and Detroit workers, as well as assisting communities in the area.
As for next steps, Bridging North America will be putting construction work on I-75 up for bid. This work will include demolition and concrete work.