Plans to build a new Canada-United States border bridge over the Detroit River between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan have reached a new milestone.
Late last week, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) announced it had signed a fixed-priced contract with Bridging North America (BNA), a private consortium that will design and build the new bridge – named the Gordie Howe International Bridge – and operate and maintain the structure over a 30-year period.
BNA entails 14 private entities, including ACS Infrastructure Canada, Fluor Canada, RBC Dominion Securities, Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects, Turner Construction Company, and various divisions of Aecon Construction Group.
“The Gordie Howe International Bridge will be a stunning addition to Windsor and Detroit’s shared skyline. Its modern yet timeless design married with advanced technology represents the future of international border crossings,” said Bryce Phillips, CEO of WDBA, in a statement.
“The staff at WDBA, along with our consultants and partners are pleased to welcome Bridging North America to the ‘Gordie Howe’ team and we are proud to work together on this history-in-the-making infrastructure project.”
Howe was, of course, a Canadian who played for the NHL Detroit Red Wings throughout most of his professional ice hockey career.
It is anticipated the 2.5-km-long, six-lane, cable-stayed suspension bridge will cost $3.8 billion to construct and $1.9 billion to maintain over the private operating period.
There will be three inbound lanes towards Canada and three inbound lanes towards the United States.
The work also includes the construction of new customs plaza facilities on both ends of the bridge, with the Canadian Port of Entry spanning 130 acres – consisting of border inspection facilities for passenger and commercial vehicles.
The US Port of Entry on the Detroit side spans a site of 167 acres – larger than Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park.
Due to the difficulties with securing funding in the United States and Michigan, the Canadian federal government will be paying for the construction of the bridge, the Canadian border plaza, and even the US border plaza. However, Canada will recover these costs by implementing tolls on the Canadian side of the crossing.
BNA has a 74-month construction schedule to open the new border crossing by the end of 2024.
The new bridge not only provides additional capacity but also provides direct links to highways on either end of the bridge, whereas the existing Ambassador Bridge crossing located nearby sends traffic through city streets on the Windsor side.
The private owner of the 88-year-old, four-lane Ambassador Bridge unsuccessfully fought against the Canadian and Michigan governments plans to build the new replacement bridge.
Traffic flowing through the Ambassador Bridge accounts for 25% of trade between Canada and the United States, with over 2.5 million commercial trucks carrying over $120 billion in goods and over four million vehicle crossings per year.
There are approximately 120 ports of entry between Canada and the United States.