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Heightened cross-border COVID testing not affecting Gordie Howe Bridge work: WDBA

Don Wall
Heightened cross-border COVID testing not affecting Gordie Howe Bridge work: WDBA

Work is proceeding on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project unabated by tightened cross-border travel restrictions imposed by the federal government through a Feb. 14 Order in Council.

The new rules require non-essential land travellers crossing the border to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Questions were raised about the definition of essential cross-border workers when local Windsor media reported that a Canadian construction executive who crosses the border once every two or three weeks was given a ticket Feb. 23 for violating the Quarantine Act.

The executive was told he was considered non-essential because he does not cross the border every day.

The Howe bridge, the biggest project in the region, is considered essential and Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) director of communications Mark Butler confirmed recently there have been no manpower nor project timetable disruptions related to cross-border travel restrictions.

“The governments of Canada, the United States and Michigan recognized the significant importance of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project and allowed work to continue as essential works, provided we followed stringent protocols,” Butler explained.

“Those workers who are required to perform jobs that necessitate travel to our construction sites on both sides of the border are following the safety protocols and procedures and guidance provided by public health professionals and border inspection agencies.”

Canada Border Services Agency media relations manager Rebecca Purdy said the CBSA would not comment on a specific case but noted in order for travellers to be exempt from pre-arrival test requirements, they must meet an exception under section 2 of the recent Order in Council.

“In order for a traveller to be exempt from these requirements as a cross-border worker, the traveller must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment and demonstrate a regular pattern of travel, which is generally defined as daily or weekly. The nature of their work does not impact this assessment,” stated Purdy in an email.

Border services officers review and consider each traveller’s circumstances, the purpose of the trip, and the documents presented at the time of entry, Purdy noted.

The $5.7-billion single-span structure over the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit will feature six lanes for vehicle traffic and a multi-use path to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. Work includes the 53-hectare Canadian Port of Entry site, the 60-hectare U.S. Port of Entry grounds and a new connection to Interstate 75 in Michigan.


P3 award for Howe bridge

Meanwhile, the WDBA, a Canadian crown corporation, was recently honoured with the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Performance of the Year award at a virtual ceremony hosted by P3 Bulletin.

A new category for 2020, the ESG award recognizes an organization’s policies and their benefits for stakeholders, operators, users and the wider community. The bridge project contract includes environmental requirements that address over 450 conditions identified in the bi-national environmental assessment process and also includes a community benefits plan with an extensive program promoting Indigenous art.


Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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