January 2023 was a historic month for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, marking the beginning of the stay cable installation on the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
This is an integral part of the bridge’s cable-stayed design and signals significant visual progress as the team works towards the completion of the project. In total, the bridge will feature 216 stay cables, 108 on each side.
What is a stay cable?
With a cable-stayed bridge design, cables serve two purposes – they deliver the weight of the entire structure to the tower and maintain the bridge deck’s stability and placement. Together, the towers and stay cables of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will be capable of supporting millions of pounds of weight.
A stay cable is comprised of rope-like metal strands housed in a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pipe. The metal strands inside the pipe are stressed and anchored to two points – an anchor box inside the tower and an edge girder on the deck.
Each stay cable on the Gordie Howe International Bridge will have between 38 and 122 strands inside the HDPE pipe, totaling more than 16,000 strands connecting the bridge towers to the deck.
Installation of each stay cable is a complicated, multi-day process. For a step-by-step breakdown, check out this “How Stay Cables are Installed” backgrounder.
Once complete, the Gordie Howe International Bridge will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America and the tenth longest in the world. It will also be the longest composite-deck, cable-stayed bridge in the world.