Construction of the Second Span
Late in 1992, an international task force studying the Blue Water Bridge crossing concluded that the existing bridge was operating in excess of its design capacity and that a new bridge should be completed and in operation in 1997. A project of this scale and complexity could typically expect an implementation period of well over 10 years. The project, a joint venture of the Blue Water Bridge and the Michigan Department of Transportation, was completed in 5 years.
Bridge planning and environmental assessment work on this project was initiated in the Summer of 1993. The initial work included the gathering of detailed environmental information, investigating crossing alternatives and determining engineering implications and environmental impacts. Contact was made with over 150 review agencies and government departments as well as extensive consultation with the affected communities. Approval to proceed with the project from the federal governments of both countries was received in the Spring of 1995.
The selected design minimizes overall environmental impacts and resulted in the construction of a contemporary new structure visually compatible with the existing historical significant Blue Water Bridge.
On April 12, 1995, official groundbreaking and sod turning ceremonies initiated construction in both countries. Pile driving was completed by early 1996 with deck erection and assembly continuing to the end of the year. The historic "meeting in the middle" took place November 6, 1996. Construction was completed in July 1997 and open to traffic July 22, 1997.
Once the new span was opened, the original span was immediately closed for renovations. Renovations took over 2 years to complete. On November 13, 1999 at 8:30 a.m., the original span was reopened to traffic making the Blue Water Bridge the largest infrastructure-crossing project in North America.
- May 1994 - Final selection of bridge design concept
- March 1995 - Completion of detailed bridge design
- June 1995 - Construction begins on Ontario foundation pilings
- August 1995 - Construction begins on Ontario approach
- September 1995 - Construction begins on Michigan foundation pilings
- March 1996 - Erection of flanking spans in Ontario
- June 1996 - Erection of flanking spans in Michigan
- July 1996 - Erection towers placed at main piers
- November 1996 - Joining of spans over the St. Clair River
- July 1997 - Completion of the second span