The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) acknowledged the Gordie Howe International Bridge project with its inaugural 2023 Brownfields and Infrastructure Phoenix Award on August 9, 2023, at the Huntington Place Convention Centre in Detroit. This premier award recognizes brownfield redevelopment projects in the United States that overcome barriers and infrastructure challenges and positively impact surrounding communities. The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines a brownfield as the redevelopment of a property which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
The 167-acre US Port of Entry (POE) involved the razing and redevelopment of a plot of land known for environmental contamination, a result of historical heavy industrial activity. Once complete, the US POE will be the largest port of entry on the Canadian-US border.
“We are honoured ICMA recognized the project with its inaugural Brownfields and Infrastructure Phoenix Award,” said Charl van Niekerk, Chief Executive Officer for Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. “The Gordie Howe International Bridge project is an example of sustainable infrastructure – one that is socially, environmentally and economically responsible. The accolades are a testament to the care and diligent planning Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, the Michigan Department of Transportation and Bridging North America applied to the redevelopment of the area where the US project components are located.”
The Phoenix Award Review Panel judged applications based on different criteria including Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), Remediation Approach and Regulatory Compliance, a description of the redevelopment, positive impact and innovation. The judges noted the Gordie Howe International Bridge project was chosen for its scale and impact, exceeding the scope of most brownfields projects.
The project award highlighted several initiatives in Detroit’s historic Delray neighbourhood during the pre-design early-works phase and the construction phase, including
- 998 project area contaminant surveys conducted during the pre-design early-works phase to evaluate sites for environmental risk and determine a course of action to address those risks.
- The establishment of the Presumptive Environmental Risk Management (PERM) process and a Preventative Measures Plan (PMP) to streamline the purchase of approximately 1,000 properties without sacrificing public safety.
- Remediation activities such as abatement of hazardous materials, demolition, excavation and disposal of non-hazardous and hazardous contaminated soils, incineration, construction dewatering and industrial pre-treatment, risk-based modeling and monitoring.
The judges also noted the project’s positive impact on the Delray community, highlighting the project’s commitment to stakeholder relations, job creation, safety and the use of cutting-edge materials and technology to support environmentally friendly construction and sustainable development.
“We hope this award for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project inspires many more large-scale infrastructure projects that remove threats to human health and the environment while accomplishing key infrastructure goals with positive impacts that can span generations,” says Chris Harrell, Senior Program Manager for ICMA.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge is the first international project to receive a Phoenix Award. It’s the latest honour that recognizes the project’s sustainable development efforts. Other honours include Envision Platinum Award and the ESG Performance of the Year P3 Award.