US tower tops out on $5.7B Gordie Howe Bridge

Dive Brief:

  • The $5.7 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge project connecting Detroit and Windsor, Canada, is entering the final stages of tower construction with help from man’s best friend, according to a press release from the project. The bridge towers have been under construction since 2019. 
  • The last concrete pour for the architectural heads at the top of the pylon on the U.S. side of the span is complete, and that tower has reached its full 722-foot height, according to the release. The heads are sloped to prevent snow and ice from accumulating.
  • Crews are now removing the jump form system which supported the concrete cast. These same last steps are anticipated to begin on the Canadian tower this month, per the release. Crews will remove equipment, platforms and materials before a crane lifts away eight giant panels from the tower, a process that takes about four weeks.

Dive Insight:

The span is being built by Bridging North America, a consortium of Irving, Texas-headquartered Fluor, Madrid-based ACS Infrastructure and Aecon of Toronto.

It’s not just construction workers bringing the bridge to life — the project is getting additional help from a Labrador retriever named Demon and other dogs. The pups patrol the jobsite to deter birds and other wildlife from nesting, and protect the animals from active construction.

The team completed underground foundational work and the tower footings in December 2020, which included six shafts per tower leg drilled 118 feet into the bedrock, according to the release. The bridge towers provide the support system for the cable-stayed span, and house the anchor boxes that attach the stay cables from the towers to the bridge and road decks.

Lower pylon construction was completed in March 2022. During this work, the jump forms encased the tower legs while each leg rose to nearly 460 feet. After the upper cross beam that merged the tower legs into a single structure was complete, work on the pylon head has been steadily progressing.

“We are excited to share the U.S. tower has reached its final height and the Canadian tower is nearing completion. These majestic towers have been the most visible and inspiring signs of progress representing a major step forward in construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge,” said Charl van Niekerk, CEO of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, in the release.

So far this year, the first bridge deck segments over the Detroit River have been placed, the first stay cables were installed and the fourth and final road bridge was reconstructed, allowing the Michigan Interchange to reopen to drivers in mid-August.

When complete, Gordie Howe will be North America’s longest cable-stayed bridge with three lanes each way for vehicular traffic as well as a multi-use path for bikes and pedestrians. Bridge officials told the Windsor Star they continue to target a late 2024 opening, but this could be pushed to 2025 due to pandemic delays.

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