1000 Days of Construction


It is an important achievement in the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project. 

On July 1, 2021, the project team marked 1000 days since the start of construction and residents in Windsor and Detroit don’t have to look very far to see the progress made to date. With the foundation work already completed and construction underway on the bridge towers in Canada and the United States, the tower legs are visible for kilometres around.

Progress also includes the near completion of all design work, ongoing earthworks and utility work at the US Port of Entry (POE) as well as the start of building construction and the completion of the Perimeter Access Road at the Canadian POE. Three road bridges crossing I-75 in Detroit are also being reconstructed as part of the Michigan Interchange component of the project.

“Reaching the mark of 1000 days of construction gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we have been and what we have accomplished but also look ahead,” says Bryce Phillips, CEO of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. “As I see the tower legs now rising from the ground I think back to standing at that same location at the start of construction and I am filled with the same feelings of inspiration and drive, feelings that are shared by all of us who have the privilege of working on this great project.”

Phillips adds progress has been achieved while limiting any potential adverse effects on the natural environment, cultural resources and neighbouring residents and businesses.

Construction has continued through the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures have been put in place on the job site as part of the project’s robust health and safety plan to keep workers safe.

On June 25, 2021, Bridging North America (BNA) and their subcontractors celebrated three million hours of work without a lost time injury. A lost time injury, also known as a LTI, is an important key safety indicator for any construction project. 

“We take great pride in the work and safety record that has been accomplished over the past one thousand days of construction,” says Michael Hatchell, the CEO of Bridging North America. “As the project components continue to go up, it further ignites the excitement on the team for being part of this once-in-a-generation mega project.”

Here is a look at the progress for the four components of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.


Canada and US Bridge sites 

Before building up, crews had to build down. Each tower pylon, or leg, is supported by six shafts that were drilled into the bedrock to a depth of 36 metres/118 feet. That is the equivalent of a 10-storey building. Each of the shafts are filled with approximately 262,000 litres/69,000 gallons of concrete. 1,600 metres/5,250 feet of post tensioning cables were also required to connect the footings from end-to-end.

With the tower foundation and footing work completed on the Canadian and US bridge sites, construction continues on the tower legs. Also referred to as pylons, the legs are currently 40 metres/120 feet in height. That is the equivalent of an 11-storey building. It is also the approximate height for the 853 metre/0.53 mile road deck between the towers in Canada and the US.

Once completed, the towers will stand at 220 metres/722 feet and will rival the height of the tallest building in Detroit at the GM Renaissance Center. The combined weight of the two towers will be approximately 66,000 metric tons/132 million pounds - the equivalent of the weight of 330 jumbo jets. 


Canadian Port of Entry 

The construction of the Perimeter Access Road around the Canadian Port of Entry (POE) was among the first activities to be completed in 2019. The two-lane road is four kilometres/2.4 miles in length and provides public access to private and public properties adjacent to the POE.

133,000 wick drains have been installed at the Canadian POE to create a solid base on which to build facilities for the new plaza and Canada Border Services Agency operations.

Construction has started on the 3,530 square metre/38,000 square foot maintenance building, the first of 12 buildings to be constructed at the Canadian POE. Foundation work is also taking place on the main and secondary inspection buildings.


United States Port of Entry 

Earthworks and ground preparation continue at the US POE. To date, over 550,000 metric tonnes/1.2 billion pounds of engineered fill and surcharge material have been placed.

68,500 out of a total of 160,000 wick drains have been installed to date in preparation for the construction of facilities for the plaza and operations for US Customs and Border Protection. 

When you account for wick drains at the Canadian and US POEs, a total of 201,500 wick drains have been installed to date.


Michigan Interchange 

Work is ongoing along a three kilometre/1.8 mile stretch of I-75 between Springwells and Clark Streets to accommodate ramps connecting the US POE to I-75.

As well, the demolition of two pedestrian bridges and three road bridges over I-75 is complete. Work over the next two years will focus on the reconstruction of four new road bridges and five pedestrian bridges.

Approximately half a million tonnes of concrete – about 25,000 concrete truck loads – will be used to construct the Gordie Howe International Bridge project. More than 22,000 tonnes of steel will also be needed for the construction of the bridge.

Since the start of construction, over 145 local businesses in Windsor and Detroit have been involved with the bridge project. There have so far been over 3,900 workers46, per cent who are local, trained to work on the project sites.

You can learn more about the Gordie Howe International bridge project and see the progress ‘first-hand’ by taking our virtual tour. The tour starts at the Canadian bridge site and takes you to the Canadian and US Ports of Entry, the US bridge site and the Michigan Interchange.