Gordie Howe Bridge Project Progresses
Construction as well as job hiring are both reportedly continuing apace as the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, a structure that will connect Michigan and Canada, continues to unfold, according to reports.
Most recently, tower supports were seen beginning to emerge from the ground. Mark Butler, spokesperson for the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, told the Windsor Star that earlier this year the Authority had completed a test shaft installation, and now the Authority is installing the production shaft.
“We are in the process of putting them in the ground and these are the footings of the actual bridge towers," Butler said.
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, former President Barack Obama gave federal approval for the project.
Job hiring and construction is beginning to move swiftly for the $5.7-billion Gordie Howe International Bridge project with supports for the towers of the long-awaited Detroit River border crossing… https://t.co/McHt8EbUO3 pic.twitter.com/tPbLN87WbO— The Windsor Star (@TheWindsorStar) November 18, 2019
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.
That 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 2018, 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. Michigan House Republicans announced in June 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. In July, demolition and site-clearing work commenced in a stretch of Detroit.
According to the Windsor Star, there are 24 production shafts to be installed; these will serve as the primary supports for the bridge’s towers. Design work is also ongoing, and is reportedly remaining fairly close to the renderings previously made available to the public.
Additionally, a 4-kilometer (2.8-mile) section of perimeter access road in Windsor has also been completed, which allows traffic to flow around the plaza. Emergency vehicles can also use the road for access. Also for the Canadian side of the structure, 150,000 wick drains are also being installed to facilitate drainage for the plaza.
To date, the Authority has hired 70 people, and another several hundred are employed with Bridging North America.