Gordie Howe Bridge project faces major delays, higher costs
Officials say the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the schedule and budget.
- Originally, the $5.7 billion project was scheduled for completion in November 2024 with opening anticipated by the end of that year.
- The new completion date is September 2025 and the updated overall contract value is $6.4 billion.
- The project team stated that the delays were due the unique COVID-19 restrictions the project had, as the site is in Canada and the U.S.
The Whole Story:
The Gordie Howe International Bridge has been delayed by 10 months and its costs have shot up $700 million.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team announced a new completion and opening timeline. Construction completion is planned for September 2025 with the first vehicles expected to travel across the bridge that fall.
Originally, the $5.7 billion project was scheduled for completion in November 2024 with opening anticipated by the end of that year. However, the team stated that the project experienced “unprecedented disruptions” as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. They added that the disruptions were even more prevalent for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project given the differing applicable restrictions in the U.S. and Canada, combined with the ramping up of construction activities in early 2020.
“After a three-year pandemic and considering the size and complexity of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, our project team is pleased that the impact to the construction schedule is limited to only 10 months beyond the original contracted completion date and that we could agree on a reasonable adjustment to the contract value,” explained Charl van Niekerk, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. “With safety as our top priority, we will continue to work together to deliver this much needed infrastructure to the thousands of eager travellers ready to cross North America’s longest cable-stayed bridge.”
The public-private partnerships (P3) contract between Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) and Bridging North America (BNA) provides for the schedule and cost impacts of certain risks to be shared. As a result, WDBA and BNA have agreed to amend the contract to include the new September 2025 construction completion date, new measures to ensure this date is achieved, and an updated overall contract value of $6.4 billion.
According to the project team, the new timeline is achievable without compromising quality, and the health and safety of workers.
Recognizing that an extended construction period impacts the project host communities, WDBA has budgeted for a one-year extension of the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan. With $3 million to be divided equally between Canada and the U.S. and expended over the 2025-2026 fiscal year, residents and business owners in Sandwich/west Windsor and Delray/Southwest Detroit will see positive outcomes from further regional investments. Additional details on the approach to allocating this funding will be shared later in 2024.
Beginning in March 2020 and over the remainder of the pandemic, various governments, including the Governments of Ontario and the State of Michigan, issued hundreds of emergency and executive orders that applied to the Gordie Howe International Bridge project resulting in schedule and cost relief that is contemplated in the Project Agreement between WDBA and BNA.
Over 2022 and 2023, the project team says it was able to make significant progress on bridge and road deck construction, stay cable installation and port of entry facilities which helped drive the overall construction schedule.
In 2024, the public can expect to see the bridge deck connect over the Detroit River and the last of the 216 stay cables installed, as well as the completion of the POE agency buildings and the concrete for the I-75 ramps.
Following construction completion, the project team will finalize operating processes and testing to fully prepare the facilities for traffic crossing the border starting in fall 2025.