A road collapses near the $4.5 billion Gordie Howe Bridge project

Diving brief:

  • A length of road near the construction site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge reopened on June 23 after an 18-day closure after a 100-foot-long section collapsed during construction of the $4.5 billion bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
  • Construction crews had driven sheet piles into the area earlier, according to Radio Canada, but no workers were on site at the time of the June 5 collapse and no one was injured. An investigation into the cause is ongoing, project builder Bridging North America, a consortium of ACS Infrastructure, Fluor and Aecon, said Thursday. The Michigan DOT and the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority are participating in the investigation.
  • Bridging North America said it will continue to monitor the situation and won’t work near collapse until further notice, but said he currently poses no danger to the community. The six-lane span will complete what is currently the nation’s busiest land border crossing when completed, likely by the end of 2024.

Overview of the dive:

Four main components make up the Gordie Howe Project, which began in 2018 and aims to increase vehicle capacity and border processing in the congested crossing area:

  • Gordie Howe International Bridge.
  • US and Canadian ports of entry.
  • The Michigan Interchange, a 1.8 mile section of Interstate 75 and surrounding local roads.

The collapse occurred on West Fort Street at Cavalry Street, not directly at the site where the bridge is being built, but closer to the construction of the Michigan Interchange, according to CBC. Bridging North America said it would cover street repair costs if found at fault.

According to Maria Lehman, president-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers, there are a wide variety of factors that could have contributed to the problem, including utilities with a leaky water main or old water pipes. which obstructed drainage.

“There are all kinds of things that could have happened there,” according to Lehman. “Major collapses aren’t as common, but I think minor collapses – you know, opening up areas – happen all the time on a lot of construction sites.”

Sometimes old utility maps get lost, especially in historic urban areas, and builders may not know there is a problem until they have encountered it. In this case, workers driving nearby sheet piles could have moved something that was holding things up or causing disruptive vibrations, according to Lehman.

“We’re always happy when no one is hurt, and then we do forensic analysis to figure out what happened so you can write some of that information down in future codes so it doesn’t happen again,” Lehman said. “It’s important that you really get to the root cause going forward, so you don’t run into that again when you’re not so lucky and you lose your life or someone gets hurt.”

US roads are in poor condition with a D grade, says ASCE latest infrastructure bulletinand bridges are the only type of infrastructure whose quality has dropped since the last report card, to a C. The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act aims to help solve the problem, with $350 billion for federal highway programs over five years. one-year period, including $12.5 billion for bridges specifically through the IIJA’s Bridge Investment Program.

Unfortunately, the country is not doing a good job of rebuilding the structures it builds, according to Lehman. She said what is needed are systematic infrastructure replacements and improvements, not just patches that will only last a few years.

“We’ve starved this issue for so long, I kinda laugh that we’re not in a middle-age crisis with our infrastructure, we’re in an old-age crisis,” Lehman said. “And everything is due at the same time.”

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