Main deck of $6.4B Gordie Howe bridge officially connects

Taylor Campbell/The Windsor Star

Ontario and Michigan have a new connection over the Detroit River after the main deck of North America’s longest cable-stayed bridge was officially joined.

According to a social media post from the Gordie Howe International Bridge team on Friday, ironworkers installed the permanent steel to connect the bridge deck before sunrise that morning to beat the heat of the day.

“Extreme heat can expand the steel, which is why cooler conditions are ideal,” the post said. Friday’s high reached 27 C.

Video of the moment posted online shows workers shaking hands on the newly installed beam, which had a Canadian flag on one end and an American flag on the other.

At a news conference earlier in the week, Bridging North America CEO David Henderson said there is still more than a year of work to go after the gap above the Detroit River permanently closes. However, workers were already celebrating when temporary bracing pieces were installed days earlier.

The two sides of the deck are connected 46 metres above the river after more than 2,000 days and 13 million hours.

Although the $6.4-billion bridge won’t open to cars, trucks, cyclists and pedestrians until 2025, it officially became an international border crossing once the deck connected, triggering 24/7 passport monitoring from border officers.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority and Bridging North America are holding a public information meeting in Windsor at McKenzie Hall from 3 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Attendees can meet with bridge project representatives, hear the latest design and construction updates, and see highlights from the project’s community benefits plan.

The meeting will have an open-house format, with presentations scheduled at 3:30 and 5:15 p.m. followed by a question-and-answer session.

The presentation and meeting materials will be posted to the bridge project’s website after the event.

Construction on The Gordie began on Oct. 5, 2018.

The opening date for the bridge was initially set for November 2024. But Bridging North America and the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, which oversees the project for the Government of Canada, announced in January the opening had been pushed back by 10 months.

Construction is now expected to wrap up in September 2025.