Using tech to build North America’s longest cable-stayed bridge

By Andy Brown28 June 2022

Technology is playing a key role in the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America, as well as new US and Canadian ports of entry and the widening of an interchange on Michigan Interstate-75.

US-based multinational engineering firm AECOM was hired as design lead for the infrastructure project to enhance the border crossing from Michigan, US, into Ontario, Canada. With the project team dispersed across 16 locations in multiple countries, design collaboration was a priority.

The ability to incorporate real-time design edits was accomplished with the use of a cloud-based platform that could both integrate and manage the detailed multidiscipline 3D design data.

AECOM used Bentley applications to help them meet goals. They used OpenRoads Designer and MicroStation to create multiple roadway alignments and drainage system plans. With ProjectWise 365, they connected all files, models, and sheets so that the globally distributed team could make updates swiftly and easily.

With the open applications, speciality designers concurrently worked on the interchange model. Whether design changes were made among the dispersed design team, the client, external stakeholders, or the construction team, the connected data environment made everyone confident that they were working from or reviewing the most recent design iteration.

By facilitating real-time, global collaboration in a cloud-based environment, AECOM delivered the design by the client’s deadline. Digital workflows reduced overall design time by 12% and the project’s carbon footprint by 5%.

The construction cost of the bridge is an estimated US$6 billion and it is scheduled to be open in 2024. 

“At AECOM, we’re harnessing the power of digital technology and innovation to accelerate project delivery, solve social and environmental challenges, and drive effective asset management. Digital design techniques facilitate design coordination and enhance project collaboration,” said Peter Byrne, Vice President, Alternative Delivery, AECOM.

“The use of Bentley’s tools for the I-75 design allowed us to focus on the integrity of the design, communications with stakeholders across the wider project, and collaboration within our specialty design teams. It gave us the assurance that the latest design iterations were available the moment they were updated from anywhere and at any time.”

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