DELRAY, Mich. (WSYM) — We are getting closer and closer to the complete opening of the Canadian border, with restrictions slowly starting to lift.
Last Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced fully vaccinated Americans could be welcomed back to Canada by mid-August for non-essential travel. He also indicated fully vaccinated travelers from other counties could be welcomed back by early September.
Throughout the pandemic, and with restrictions on travel, work has continued on the Gordie Howe Bridge construction project. A few weeks ago, they passed 1,000 days of work on the bridge with 3 million hours of work down without any lost time due to injuries.
Once complete, the bridge will be the longest cable state bridge in North America, around 2,800 feet in length.
Building the bridge has meant relocating people who once called Detroit’s Delray community home. More than 200 people living in Delray were relocated. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, $65 million was spent buying out properties. Another $60 million was spent relocating people.
“It’s desolated and it is destroyed,” said Dougles Chico.
Chico says he lives in Delray and is hopeful the building of the bridge will bring people back to the community once complete.
“You’re providing a bridge for commercial businesses to handle their business and pedestrian bridge to go and travel, and it should have been like that, one side of the bridge the Ambassador Bridge should have been for and commercial, export, importing and commercial,” said Chico.
The Gordie Howe Bridge will have three lanes of traffic in each direction. However, what will set this bridge apart from other international bridges is a walking and biking path.
“I believe that will bring better people and good, quality people. Tourist some in and probably change the area around a little bit,” said Michael Cope, who works in Delray.
“You have people who can go back and forth on foot or on bikes you can’t do that right now with the tunnel or with the existing bridge,” Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority CEO Bryce Phillips said.
According to Michael Hatchell, CEO of Bridging North America, construction is happening in four parts. The I-75 interchange where construction is moving forward quickly, according to Hatchell, the two ports of entry and then the bridge itself.
Right now, the pillars to hold the bridge are around 140 feet high, the level traffic will be at. When construction is finished, the pillars will stand 720 feet into the sky.
“Going to the US port of entry, that’s probably the one that is a little bit further behind than the Canadian side because they are dealing with the ground and the settlement in the ground that needs to take place,” said Hatchell.
Truck noise has been an issue with this construction project. The University of Michigan teaming up with the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition to evaluate the impact. Stating the noise can impact sleep, cardiovascular and psychosocial health.
“The Delray community on the Detroit side, we are working with them to try and establish truck routes, when you take overpasses over the 75 down to overpasses and routes that are detours in communities so we are working with the Michigan Department of Transportation and local stakeholders to figure out what are the right routes we can direct traffic so a lot of moving parts on a project like this,” said Phillips.
There are still three and a half years of work to be done, with a potential for a delay because of the pandemic. However, the goal is still to be finished by 2024.