Those watching construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will see major changes at the US bridge tower over the next four weeks. The last concrete pour for the sloped architectural heads at the top of the pylon head is now complete and the US tower has reached its full height of 722 feet. Crews will now begin removing the jump form system which includes artwork by local Detroit based artist Roberto Villalobos. These last steps are anticipated to begin at the Canadian bridge tower in September.
Forever changing the shared skyline between Windsor, Canada and Detroit Michigan, the impressive towers have been under construction since 2019. Underground foundational work and the tower footings were completed in December 2020 and included six shafts per tower leg drilled into the bedrock to a depth of 118 feet. Lower pylon construction was completed in March 2022.
During this work, the muraled jump forms encased the tower legs providing workers an enclosed environment while each leg rose to nearly 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.
Removal of the jump form system involves a multi-step process lasting 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.
While visually stunning, 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.
“We are excited to share the US tower has reached its final height and the Canadian tower is nearing completion. 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,” said Charl van Niekerk, Chief Executive Officer, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.
“It has been a truly rewarding experience for me and my colleagues at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to participate as this tower soars into the skyline. This completion of the tower is both a symbol of progress and a reflection of a sustained partnership between two great nations,” added Bradley C. Wieferich, Director of Michigan Department of Transportation.
“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. 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,” said Michael Hatchell, CEO, Bridging North America.
- Once complete, the tower in Canada will be the tallest structure in the City of Windsor and the tower in the US now rivals the height of Detroit’s tallest building, the 73-story centre tower of the GM Renaissance Center.
- The architectural heads atop the north and south faces of the tower measure 1.5 metres/5 feet in height. They not only add to the aesthetic design of the tower, they are slopped to prevent snow and ice accumulation.
- The area between the architectural heads at the top of the tower remains open to provide crews access to materials and equipment to continue the installation of stay cables as the bridge deck moves out over the Detroit River and as the road deck connects to the Port of Entry.
- 2023 has been marked with significant achievements for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project: the first bridge deck segments over the Detroit River were placed, the first stay cables were installed and the fourth and final road bridge reconstructed as part of Michigan Interchange reopened to traffic.