In December, the Canadian tower on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project reached its full height of 220 metres/722 feet marking a historic moment in the project’s construction.
Forever changing the shared skyline between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan, the towers are clearly visible at key vantage points throughout the region. The Canadian tower is the tallest structure in the city of Windsor, while the US tower rivals the height of Detroit’s tallest building, the 73-storey center tower of the GM Renaissance Center.
“We are proud to mark completion of the two towers that support what will be North America’s longest cable-stayed bridge and the 10th longest in the world,” says Charl van Niekerk, CEO of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA). “This achievement is an engineering marvel and a testament to the team’s dedication to innovation, safety and sustainability. We now look forward to our next significant construction accomplishment which includes the completion of the main span structure by mid 2024.”
Construction on the towers began in 2019 and involved three key phases: Underground work for leg support, lower pylon work completing the two separate legs and the pylon head work.
- Underground foundational work and the tower footings were completed in December 2020. This phase included the installation of six shafts per tower leg drilled into the bedrock to a depth of 36 metres/118 feet – the equivalent of an 11-storey building.
- Lower pylon construction was completed in March 2022. During this phase, the muraled jump forms encased the tower legs providing workers an enclosed environment to work in. Over time, each leg rose to nearly 140 metres/460 feet, where they met to form the upper cross beam that merged the tower legs into a single structure.
- Work on the single structure, the upper part known as the pylon head of the tower, has been steadily progressing ever since.
“The completion of the towers signifies the dedication and teamwork that have been at the heart of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project,” says David Henderson, Interim CEO of Bridging North America (BNA). “Thousands of men and women have worked tirelessly to make this vision a reality. Bridging North America is proud to have achieved this significant accomplishment safely, one that we can all be proud of.”
There are 47 segments for each tower – 25 in the tower legs and 22 in the upper pylon. Each segment has an average height of 4.67 metres/15.3 feet and requires 98 cubic metres/128 cubic yards of concrete and 55 tonnes/121,254 pounds of rebar.
To mark the bridge towers reaching their full height, a new Kid Construction Zone activity was developed. Print out the activity sheet and test your construction skills by building a tower similar to those of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.