When the first 80-foot joint of pipe was laid across the U.S./Canadian border last month, the crew of more than 100 men and women working on the Keystone XL international border crossing in Montana and Saskatchewan knew they were witnessing history as construction began on this long-awaited and vital infrastructure project.
"This was a significant milestone for the project that has been years in the making, involving hundreds of employees and contractors, and I want to thank the team on site in particular who sacrificed their time and effort remaining in place for the entire duration of the project," said Gary Salsman, Project Vice-President of U.S. Keystone XL.
The 1.4-mile (2.2-km) border crossing had its fair share of challenges and complexities, with the Keystone XL Project Team working with numerous federal, state and provincial authorities to garner the necessary permits and approvals needed to cross an international border.
The onset of COVID-19 also presented a significant challenge to the team. Crews began to arrive at the border just as both the U.S. and Canadian federal governments were issuing social-distancing guidelines and calling for containment measures to stem the pandemic.
The project team met the challenge by working closely with state and local authorities on developing a COVID-19 safety plan that ensured the safety of both the community and the workers
"We had some difficult challenges but we worked together as a team to come up with creative ideas and to find solutions," said Samantha Fernandes, project manager of the Keystone XL border crossing.
And, they did it all without compromising safety, whether they were working through sleet, snow or 50-mph (80-kph) winds.
"Safety really resonated with our team. They understood that safety came first even if it took them an extra day or several extra hours to get a job done," said Fernandes. "They all bought into the safety mindset and everyone looked out for one another."
The team hired additional health-care workers to take incoming workers' temperatures and monitor for potential symptoms related to COVID-19. And, as restaurants closed, the project team provided locally catered meals to the work crew, utilizing local businesses in the nearby communities.
“TC Energy’s presence has been an economic benefit during the COVID-19 crisis with their support of local motels, grocery stores, gas stations and other businesses,” said Becky Erickson, Mayor of Glasgow.
Project Manager, Keystone XL border crossing