Will the Windsor/Detroit Crossing Ever Get Its Promised Gordie Howe International Bridge?

Currently, crossing the international border of Windsor and Detroit means either taking the tunnel under the Detroit River or driving across the Ambassador Bridge, which happens to have been built in 1929. Despite constant maintenance, this current span across the Detroit River will not last indefinitely and various engineers have voiced concerns in recent years about the stability and longevity of the Ambassador’s continued daily use. Two opposing solutions have surfaced to alleviate this issue: proposal of the Gordie Howe International Bridge public-private partnership in 2015, and approval that came in early September of a second span neighbouring the Ambassador Bridge and privately owned by the Detroit International Bridge Company. Even with an added push of competition from the latter, the Gordie Howe project deadline is still experiencing setbacks and no strict completion date. Here’s a timeline of the plan thus far and whether the city of Windsor may see a finalized date soon:

-       2000: the investigation into a new border transportation system for the Windsor-Detroit gateway commenced (Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority).

-       July 2015: official announcement of the bridge project, named the Gordie Howe International Bridge, and its prospective completion date of 2020.

-       January 2016: 3 major construction teams are considered ahead of official proposals being submitted (CBC Canada).

-       November 2016: 18 months added to the timeline of choosing a final constructor for the project (CTV News).

-       October 2017: 18-month timeline is once again changed to a new date of September 2018, at which point the deal will hopefully be closed so construction can commence. (CBC Canada).


When CTV News spoke to DWBA chair Dwight Duncan in November of 2016, he admitted that a 2022 deadline would be more realistic but that the project couldn’t be “held to any one specific date”. With the catalyst of a competition span in the hands of the Detroit International Bridge Company, it may be that the long-awaited transportation improvement for Windsor and Detroit will finally be accelerated. Despite the rivalry between parties backing the projects, many believe that both are necessary for smooth border and traffic control. Matt Marchand, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, certainly shares this view: “We not only need both bridges, but the rail tunnel, as well. We need everything updated and completed, so this is a step in the right direction” (The Windsor Star).


All considered, it’s pretty safe to say that travelers will still be limited to using the 88-year-old Ambassador Bridge for the foreseeable future, as each respective project firms up proposals and works through the stages of planning. Despite how long this process may be carried on for, it can likely be assured that citizens of Windsor and Detroit will finally see a rival stretch across the Detroit River within the decade to come.