Building a Bridge Within a Bridge

by Corinne S. Bernstein, Asst. News Editor; Civil Engineering —ASCE, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1986, Vol. 56, Issue 9, Pg. 80-81

Document Type: Feature article


The City of Grand Rapids had to replace an aging bridge connecting vital commercial centers on opposite sides of Michigan's Grand River. The city's consultants found a way to preserve the structure's historical appearance while increasing loading. Their unconventional approach was to keep the old exterior arch ribs and facade for pedestrian bridges while rebuilding everything in between. The contractor rebuilt half the structure at a time, using the remaining roadway as a construction platform. Six months after work began in mid-1983, the south lanes were open to traffic. Two months later, the other lanes were finished. The $2.6 million project is one of three downtown bridges restored in the last 10 years. As downtown redevelopment continues, traffic across the bridge has exceeded 10,000 vehicles a day, up from 6,300 before the rehabilitation.

Subject Headings: Bridges | Historic preservation | Arch bridges | Business districts | Traffic management | Bridge-vehicle interaction | Aging (material) | Rivers and streams

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