Towers rise at Gordie Howe International Bridge
By Adam FreillBridges Construction Infrastructure
Final concrete pour for the top of the U.S. tower completed; final steps for Canadian tower to begin in September.
Anyone watching construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will soon see major changes on the towers. The last concrete pour for the sloped architectural heads at the top of the U.S. tower’s bridge pylon head is now complete, with that tower now at its full height of 220 metres (722 feet). Crews will now begin removing the jump form system that includes artwork by local Detroit-based artist Roberto Villalobos. These last steps are anticipated to begin at the Canadian bridge tower in September.
The towers, which stand guard on the span between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit, Mich., have been under construction since 2019. Underground foundational work and the tower footings were completed in December of 2020 and included six shafts per tower leg drilled into the bedrock to a depth of 36 metres (118 feet). Lower pylon construction was completed in March of 2022. During this work, the muraled jump forms encased the tower legs providing workers an enclosed environment while each leg rose to nearly 140 metres (460 feet). Following construction of the upper cross beam that merged the tower legs into a single structure, work on the pylon head of the tower has been steadily progressing.
“We are excited to share the U.S. tower has reached its final height and the Canadian tower is nearing completion,” stated Charl van Niekerk, chief executive officer at Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. “These majestic towers have been the most visible and inspiring signs of progress representing a major step forward in construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.”
Removal of the jump form system is a multi-step process that takes approximately four weeks. Crews will disassemble the jump forms by removing equipment, platforms and materials before a crane lifts away eight giant panels from the tower, one side at a time. The Gordie Howe International Bridge team is currently working with regional stakeholders to find a permanent home for the artwork.
“Reaching tower completion is the result of years of meticulous planning, engineering expertise and hard work by thousands of men and women. The towers embody strength, durability and innovation in design,” added Michael Hatchell, CEO of Bridging North America, the private-sector partner that is designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining the bridge. “Bridging North America has reached this point in the project safely and is extremely pleased with the work of our team. It’s a source of pride and an accomplishment we can all be proud of.”
In addition to providing impressive visuals, the bridge towers are integral to the cable-stayed design of the bridge. They house the anchor boxes that attach the stay cables from the towers to the bridge and road decks. Along with the stay cables, the towers provide the support system for the entire weight of the bridge and the load it will eventually carry.
Once complete, the tower in Canada will be the tallest structure in the City of Windsor. The tower in the U.S. now rivals the height of Detroit’s tallest building, the 73-storey centre tower of the GM Renaissance Center.