Innovative Formwork Construction Techniques and Super Service


Detroit, Michigan

Innovative Solutions for a Complex Project

The construction industry is no stranger to intricate projects, but the Gordie Howe International Bridge project takes complexity to a new level. Construction on the American side of the project was divided into two concurrent projects: the approach span and the tie-in to I-75. With over 45 structures, including abutments and piers, this project is one of the largest infrastructure projects currently under construction in the U.S. and poses significant challenges requiring innovative solutions.

Commitment to Super Service

After the work was completed on the ramps that connect I-75 to the U.S. Port of Entry, the project’s next priority shifted to the approach section of the bridge structure. BNA, the general contractor (a joint venture comprising Fluor Corp, Dragados Canada, and AECON), selected EFCO as their formwork provider due to their trust in EFCO’s commitment to Super Service, attention to detail, and innovative solutions. The EFCO sales and engineering teams assessed every aspect of the project and refined the formwork design to meet BNA’s needs.

Tieless Design for Column Construction

BNA purchased two sets of custom chamfered moment corners from EFCO to be used with standard PLATE GIRDER® HS formwork to accommodate the unique design of the approach columns. The corners enabled a tieless design for the 7′-6″ (2.3 m) x 9′-10″ (3 m) columns and supported a 1,000 psf (48 kPa) pour pressure rating. Piers 6-8 incorporated a pour bridge that bolted to the column forms for ease of concrete placement. The pour bridge helped keep concrete placement consistent, eliminating shifting of the blind nut boxes used to support the pier cap formwork brackets.

Bridge Pier Cap with Sloped Soffit

The approach on the American side consists of eight piers approximately 112′-10″ (34.5 m) long x 8′ (2.4 m) wide x 10′-2″ (3.1 m) tall (maximum height). These pier caps feature a sloped soffit ranging from 6′-6″ (2.0 m) minimum height to 10′-2″ (3.1 m) over the columns and 9′-10″ (3.0 m) wide at the two square support columns. The first through third piers include an infill between the columns. EFCO also supplied custom steel forms for the blister on the pier cap. A blister is a bump on the pier cap face where column geometry extends into the pier cap.

Efficient Crane Operation for Pier Cap Construction

BNA used two cranes simultaneously to set the massive pier cap formwork in one pick. The SUPER PLATE GIRDER®, PLATE GIRDER HS, and custom steel blister panels brought the total pier cap formwork weight to over 141,000 lb (63,957 kg). After lifting and setting the pier cap formwork, BNA flew the prebuilt rebar cage into position.

Why BNA Chose EFCO

EFCO was the only formwork supplier able to supply standard formwork with minimal custom items and still accommodate the architectural design of the concrete without the use of additional shore towers. From the previous completion of other components of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, EFCO had demonstrated their commitment to providing BNA the lowest in-place concrete cost through Quality, Innovative custom products, and a commitment to Super Service.


I’ve had the privilege of working closely with EFCO and am truly impressed. Their form system is a game-changer because it doesn’t need ground support shoring, making construction faster and cheaper. Their expertise in handling elevated concrete pressures for continuous casting is remarkable. What stood out even more was the chance to work directly with their engineers at their Des Moines HQ. They’re all about customized solutions and productive partnerships. EFCO’s innovation and dedication make them the top choice for efficient formwork solutions.

-Brett Brigham, Superintendent U.S. Bridge Side




Contact our COLUMBUS office today

3900 Zane Trace Drive

Columbus, OH  43228-3886

Phone: (614) 876-1226



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BNA Constructors USA TEAM

Brett Brigham, Bridge Superintendent

Ankur Singh, P.E., Lead Engineer Design/Construction

Chris Haskins, P.E., Lead Approach Engineer

Dariya Protcheva, Approach Substructure Engineer



Pete Dellerba, Major Projects

Eddie George, Sr. Territory Manager

Brian Jenne, Field Supervisor

John King, P.E., Sr. Corporate Project Engineer

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