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Infrastructure, OH&S

Fort Street roadwork halted as Gordie Howe Bridge team investigates concrete collapse

Don Wall
Fort Street roadwork halted as Gordie Howe Bridge team investigates concrete collapse
WDBA FACEBOOK—The towers of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project are anticipated to reach their final height of 220 metres by the end of this year or in early 2023.

Work will not resume on a section of roadway on the U.S. side of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project where concrete collapsed recently until there’s an understanding of the cause, an engineer with the project owner stated June 15.

Concrete collapsed inwardly over a 100-foot section of Fort Street overnight on June 5, a Sunday. No workers were onsite at the time and no injuries were sustained. The builder, Bridging North America, is undertaking an investigation in consultation with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the owner, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA), to determine the cause of the collapse.

“Work in the area where the incident occurred has stopped. Traffic was moved away from that area so that the additional investigation can take place,” stated Grant Hilbers, vice-president of engineering with the WDBA.

“To be clear, work in the area that was impacted has stopped and will only resume when we understand (the cause).”

Later that evening, Bridging North America reopened one lane of traffic in each direction of Fort Street between Livernois Avenue and Campbell Street as the investigation continues. 

Hilbers was speaking at a streamed quarterly construction update on the $5.7-billion project. Heather Grondin, vice-president of corporate affairs for the WDBA, explained a root cause analysis of the concrete failure is being undertaken.

“That will help us determine what, if any, steps need to be taken to prevent a similar type incident occurring again,” she said.

The section of roadway is near West Fort and Calvary Streets and is part of interchange work on the U.S. side, a component of the larger project.

The bridge project is targeted for completion at the end of 2024. The construction consortium is building a cable-stayed bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ont. with port of entry (POE) buildings and connections to the I-75 in Michigan and Highway 401 in Ontario.

“We are now in the peak construction period, which will continue through 2023,” Grondin reported. “It’s during this period, so basically between 2020, 2021 through to late 2023, that we’re seeing the most construction work taking place on the project. It is expected that over 70 per cent of total construction hours will take place during this period.”

Grondin outlined a number of milestones expected to be reached this year. The towers are anticipated to reach their final height of 220 metres by the end of this year or in early 2023, and work has begun on construction of the bridge deck and pier tables where the roadway across the bridge will be constructed.

At the Canadian port of entry, nine out of 12 POE facilities are currently under construction.

“The project team expects to begin construction on the remaining three buildings or facilities in the coming months,” Grondin said.

Construction of U.S. POE buildings is also well underway, Grondin said, and work on the I-75 interchange

will see significant progress this year including demolition and removal of existing infrastructure, reconstruction of select roadways and bridges and construction of new project infrastructure.

Grondin also reported on workforce goals relating to local hiring, noting that 43 per cent of the 6,470 workers on the project so far are local to Detroit or Windsor-Essex. Over 300 apprentices have been employed on the two sides and over 200 co-op students have been engaged by the WDBA and Bridging North America.


@GORDIEHOWEBRG—Team members of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority updated progress on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project and answered questions during a quarterly update session held June 15. Pictured is the pier table under construction on the Canadian side.


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