The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which is owned by both Detroit and Windsor, will close for weeknights and four full weekends from November through June as crews replace the 86-year-old ceiling slab. The tunnel will shut down at 8:30 p.m. and open at 5:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.
Joint-operators Detroit-Windsor Tunnel LLC and Windsor Detroit Tunnel Corp. will split the costs of the $17 million project. Wixom-based Toebe Construction LLC received the contract to repair about 4,000 feet of ceiling.
Detroit-Windsor Tunnel President and CEO Neal Belitsky told Crain’s the project is the final of three phases of tunnel renovations worth $21 million total to be paid out of tolls. The first phase included masonry work done by Livonia-based Ram Construction Services Inc. and the second phase, expected to be completed within the next 40 days, includes electrical and communications work done by Detroit-based Motor City Electric Co. and Windsor-based Vollmer Co.
About 12,000 vehicles travel the underwater tube each day, totaling more than 4 million a year, Belitsky said. The series of shutdowns will lead to $588,226 in toll revenue losses, equivalent to 150,000 vehicles. Belitsky did not disclose its annual revenue.
“We picked the quietest hours and the quietest days to disrupt the least amount of people as possible. We don’t think the number will be significant,” he said. “We understand it’s going to inconvenience some people, but it’s no difference when the state or municipality has to work on their roads. It’s our turn for a major project.”
The last major tunnel renovation that impacted traffic was a roadway replacement in the mid 1990s. The ceiling renovation was originally scheduled for last year, but was delayed so the project could be re-engineered.
“The bids came in way higher than we expected, so we looked at different ways to do the project,” Belitsky said. “We broke it up into three different projects and reduced the overall value. It went down from $30 million to $21 million.”
The tunnel closure will likely affect sports fans who travel for Red Wings games and drivers who commute between the two countries for work. The Red Wings will play 41 home games at the new Little Caesars Arena set to open next month. Belitsky said the tunnel will stay open for specific special events, which will be laid out in a calendar to be published in upcoming weeks.
“We’re working with the contractor as well as venues both on the Detroit side and the Windsor side to try to minimize disruption for major events,” Belitsky said. “There are probably about 5,000 medical staff that cross the tunnel, mostly from Windsor to Detroit. We are working with the hospitals and other key stakeholders to see what we can do working together to reduce the inconvenience.”
Belitsky said the eight-month renovation will not affect its workforce. The company is organizing a package of alternate work for staff that will include miscellaneous maintenance and property patrol during construction hours, he said.