- The opening of the $5.7 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit and Canada is now likely to be pushed to August 2025, a delay of eight months, according to analysis from S&P completed two months ago and obtained recently by the Windsor Star.
- Most of the issues leading to delays on the project have been on the Detroit side, near the newly created interchange with I-75. The S&P analysis points to issues with siphons and incomplete designs.
- Part of the problem may be lack of management from the board of directors of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, which is the entity tasked with ultimately overseeing construction. An Auditor General of Canada report for 2021 released Oct. 21 found a “significant deficiency in board oversight.”
According to the auditor general, areas of improvement for the WDBA include board appointments, corporate risk management and performance measurement and monitoring. Nonetheless, “despite the significant deficiency and weaknesses, the corporation reasonably maintained the systems and practices needed to carry out its mandate,” according to the report.
Four main components make up the Gordie Howe project, which broke ground in 2018 and aims to boost vehicle capacity and border processing in the region:
- Gordie Howe International Bridge.
- U.S. port of entry.
- Canada port of entry.
- The Michigan Interchange, a 1.8-mile section of Interstate 75 and surrounding local roads.
When finished, the six-lane, 1.5-mile span will supplement what is currently the countries’ busiest land border crossing and help address a persisting supply chain choke point for trucks. The Canadian government is footing the bill for the bulk of the project.
Challenges and delays
Per the project agreement, builders Bridging North America — a consortium composed of ACS Infrastructure Canada, Fluor Canada and Aecon Concessions — would face substantial monetary penalties for each day late beyond the originally scheduled completion date of the end of 2024. BNA has formally requested relief from the contracted timeline but talks are ongoing, according to the S&P analysis.
It’s not the first challenge the project has seen. In June, part of the roadway collapsed on West Fort Street at Cavalry Street close to the Michigan Interchange construction. No workers were on site at the time and no one was injured, and an investigation into the cause is ongoing.
State and federal entities have faced numerous legal challenges from Manuel “Matty” Moroun and his son Matthew Moroun, American billionaires that own the 92-year-old competing Ambassador Bridge upriver. The family has sued to stop the project since its inception.
Nonetheless, the project is advancing. Work on pylon heads atop the bridge’s towers advanced in the spring and the road deck began to take shape over the summer.