The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, July 13, 2018

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Gordie Howe Bridge moving forward

WINDSOR, ONTARIO - The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) announced July 5 that the consortium group Bridging North America has been selected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

The span's design was also announced: it will be a cable-stayed bridge, the longest in North America. The 1.5 mile-long bridge will include six vehicle lanes, as well as a dedicated multi-use path that will accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge’s “A”-shaped towers will rival the height of the 73-story Renaissance Center.

Key members of Bridging North America include: ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc.; Dragados Canada Inc.; Fluor Canada Ltd.; and AECOM, among others. Construction will begin later this year, although there has already been extensive related demolition, utility, site and infrastructure work taking place on both sides of the bridge.

“This is an exciting time for WDBA and for communities on both sides of the border," said Dwight Duncan, Chair, WDBA Board of Directors. "The selection of Bridging North America as the preferred proponent is another step forward towards the start of construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge – the largest infrastructure project along the Canada-US border and one which will stimulate the economies in Canada and the United States.”

On the Detroit side, the Michigan Department of Transportation said it has acquired 95 percent of the properties necessary for construction of the U.S. entry plaza while demolishing 255 buildings.

The project is expected to cost north of $2 billion. Six international groups initially applied, that number was whittled down to three before the Bridging North America Group was selected. 

Construction jobs hit 10-year high

U.S. construction employment increased by 13,000 jobs in June and by 282,000 jobs over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. 

"The construction industry continues to add workers faster than the economy as a whole, and the industry is paying premium wages to attract and retain those workers," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The employment gains are occurring in both residential and nonresidential construction. However, the industry is having to rely more and more on workers without construction experience, as the pool of unemployed construction workers has nearly evaporated."

Construction employment totaled 7.22 million in June, the highest level since May 2008 and a gain of 4.1 percent over the past 12 months. The year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than double the 1.6 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment. Hourly earnings in the industry averaged $29.71 in June, an increase of 2.9 percent from a year earlier. That put average hourly earnings in construction 10.1 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.7 percent in the past year, to $26.98, Simonson added.