AECOM wins contract to design Gordie Howe International Bridge

13 July 2018 4 min. read
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Global engineering and design consultancy AECOM has been selected as part of a winning consortium to design the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The six-lane, 2.5 km long Detroit-Windsor bridge connection will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America.

Global engineering and design consultancy AECOM has seen spectacular growth since its inception in 1990. Along the way, the firm has worked on numerous major engineering and infrastructure projects across the world, including the Taizhou Bridge in China and the Etihad railway in the UAE. AECOM employs 87,000 people, and had revenues of $18 billion last year.

In addition to providing architectural, design, engineering, and construction services, the firm provides a wider portfolio of offerings that include strategic consulting and IT & cybersecurity services, among others. The company name is an acronym for its core services: architecture, engineering, consulting, operations, and maintenance.

AECOM announced this week that it had been selected as part of the Bridging North America Consortium to design the Gordie Howe International Bridge by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA). The consortium includes AECOM, as well as number of other firms with a strong track record of carrying out successful major infrastructure projects in Canada and the US: ACS Infrastructure Canada, Dragados Canada, Fluor Canada, RBC Dominion Securities, Carlos Fernandez Casado and FHECOR Ingenieros Consultores, Moriyama & Teshima, and Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects.

The $3.7 billion dollar bridge linking Windsor and Detroit will be funded through a public-private partnership. Major construction is expected to start in fall of this year, with an estimated completion date in 2020. The bridge will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America, upon completion.AECOM wins contract to design Gordie Howe International Bridge“We are honored to have been selected as the designer for this iconic piece of infrastructure, and for the trust WDBA has placed in AECOM and our Bridging North America partners,” commented AECOM Chairman and CEO Michael S. Burke. “Bridges connect, and not only will this project provide a major gateway between Canada and the United States, it will support economic growth through job creation, tourism and trade.”

The impetus for building the massive new six-lane bridge is to streamline border traffic in Detroit-Windsor, which is currently serviced by four different crossings. The Detroit-Windsor border accounts for a quarter of US-Canada trade traffic, and the expansive bridge hopes to facilitate the easy flow of goods carried by the 2.6 million trucks crossing the border annually. The Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge which handles 60% of truck traffic across the Detroit River, have been the most vocal opponents of the project – since it threatens to upend their lucrative family business.

AECOM reported that it will be responsible for designing the new six-lane, 2.5 kilometre-long bridge, with an 853-metre main span. The company will also design Canadian and US ports of entry, as well as an interchange and connecting ramps. AECOM has deep expertise in bridge-building, having designed the Taizhou Bridge in China, the world’s first long-span, three-pylon suspension bridge. The firm’s website relates that the Yangtze-spanning bridge is “[c]onsidered the finest example of structural engineering ever built.”

“AECOM has delivered some of the most complex, innovative and challenging bridge structures around the world, but this project is about so much more than the infrastructure,” remarked Steve Morriss, president of AECOM’s Design Consulting Services group in the Americas. “AECOM’s vast, global network of architects, planners, engineers, safety specialists, roadway experts, landscapers, interior designers, and dozens of other technical practices will collaborate across borders to bring this symbolic project to life – connecting and serving the local communities, regions, and the world.”

Noted Canadian hockey legend Gordie Howe was selected as the namesake of the bridge because he was one of the greatest hockey players in the history of the Detroit Red Wings – and the sport generally. As a Canadian who brought hockey glory to Detroit in the form of four Stanley Cup championships, Howe was a good symbolic choice for the namesake of the Detroit-Windsor bridge. Gordie Howe, known to fans simply as ‘Mr. Hockey,’ passed away in 2016.