Canada, U.S. mere metres apart as Gordie Howe bridge deck gap narrows

Trevor Wilhelm/The Windsor Star

The Canadian and American sides of the Gordie Howe International Bridge deck are now just a few metres apart.

Bridge officials, who gave the Windsor Star access to the work site last week to take drone photos and video, expect the gap to close by the end of June. 

Things appear to be moving fast. During a media tour of the bridge deck on May 14, the gap was 26 metres. By Thursday afternoon, the gap had narrowed to 11 metres.

On Monday, the bridge builders announced that the final Canadian bridge deck segment had been placed, with the U.S. side working on its last slab. And on Tuesday, the final two of 108 cables — which hold the weight of the bridge —were being installed on the Canadian bridge tower.

When the two sides are connected, even though the bridge won’t actually open until 2025, it will officially be an international border crossing.

That means border officers will be stationed there 24/7. The people working on the construction project will also have to go through border checkpoints when they enter and leave the bridge.

Each side of the bridge has 27 pre-designed segments. They each average about 15 metres long and 37.5 metres wide.  

When the final mid-span piece is installed, the bridge will be 853 metres long, making it the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America. It also has the longest composite steel and composite bridge deck of any cable-stayed bridge in the world. 

Crews were still working on the 27th segment on the U.S. side of the bridge on Thursday.  

When that is finished, they will install temporary bracing pieces that must be in place before work begins on the final segment, known as the mid-span closure. 

To install the mid-span, crews will use jacks to move the Canadian side of the deck about six inches to create enough clearance. 

The middle of the bridge deck will be 46 metres above the water, ensuring plenty of clearance for the Detroit River shipping lane.  

The work to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge began on Oct. 5, 2018. After delays and cost increases brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, construction of the $6.4 billion bridge is expected to be finished by September 2025. 

The first vehicles will likely cross that fall.

The new international crossing connecting Windsor and Detroit will also accommodate cyclists and pedestrians along a multi-use path that will be part of the Trans Canada Trail system and connect to existing trail networks on the Michigan side.