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Friday, 21 September, 2007 6:02 PM

Michigan's Bridges and Highway Overpasses Demand Repairs

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Rusted steel beams are exposed on the sidewalk that runs along the Five Mile Road bridge on top of I-275 in Livonia.

by Jason Rzucidlo
AmericaJR@AmericaJR.com

 

 

If you think that our bridges won't collapse like I-35 did in Minneapolis, think again. Many of Michigan's bridges were given a rating of "3," on a scale of 0 to 9, which indicates they are in serious condition. These bridges or highway overpasses have corrosion, deterioration, cracking and chipping, erosion of concrete bridge piers that have seriously affected deck, superstructure or substructure.

After I-35 collapsed in the Twin Cities, inspectors were required to check the condition of every bridge nationwide. The National Bridge Inventory created a 0 to 9 rating scale. If a bridge received a "9," then it is in excellent condition. If a bridge received a "0," then it is considered to be out of service and beyond corrective action.

Barry B. LePatner, Esq. is the founder of New York City-based LePatner & Associates, LLP. He has 30 years of experience as a legal advisor for the real estate, design and construction industries. LePatner graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1972. He also wrote "Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets: How To Fix America's Trillion-Dollar Construction Industry."

"We have a problem. State and Federal engineers have been sending reports to legislatures. Politicians do not find this a sexy issue, " said LePatner. "No appeal to bring a bridge up to standards. Politicians have been giving pennies on the dollar."

The American Society of Civil Engineers have estimated that it will cost $1.6 trillion to repair our nation's bridges and bring them up to standards.

"It's the choices of politicians. We have the ability to allocate resources. Here's an issue that can no longer be kept at the bottom. In the construction industry, 50% of all labor costs are wasted by inefficiencies such as deliveries not on time," according to LePatner. If our government spent $100 billion to do repairs, the construction industry wouldn't give us that in effort.

How long will the average bridge last? "Each bridge has two factors. Was it designed to handle traffic safely? Has it been maintained from year to year? If attended to, the lifespan of a bridge could go on forever," said LePatner.

America is facing a nationwide shortage of engineers. There aren't enough of them to inspect and do repairs on our nation's bridges. LePatner reports that our country will need thousands more engineers to do the work. "We have no where near enough. We need a massive national effort. It's become a very, very critical issue," he said.

As our country's population increases, our bridges will require more maintenance. The population of the U.S. has surpassed 300 million. By 2030, it is expected that our country will have grown by 70 million more people. This puts more impact on our roads and bridges. It will cause them to deteriorate at a faster rate.

Computers have helped engineers create bridges that are safer than in the past. "Today, the technology allows engineers to identify more carefully the structural needs of a bridge. More tools at their hands. Today's structures are very, very safe," LePatner indicated.

There are four factors that can lead to bridge failure: poor design, if it's constructed improperly, if it was constructed with defective materials or if the maximum load was exceeded. Most states have published reports on the condition of its bridges. The reports will indicate which bridges are deteriorating, which are in danger and which are up to standards. To find the report, simply visit your state's Department of Transportation website.

 

According to a report published by the Michigan Department of Transportation, many of our state's worst conditioned highway overpasses are found in Detroit:

  • Fort Street at Norfolk & Western Rail Crossing in Detroit (Built in 1923, Last Inspected: 12/13/06) Rating: 2
  • M-10 at Puritan Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1963, Last Inspected: 3/12/07) Rating: 3
  • M-39 at Seven Mile Road in Detroit (Built in 1963, Last Inspected: 9/12/06) Rating: 3
  • M-39 at Plymouth Road in Detroit (Built in 1961, Last Inspected: 12/18/06) Rating: 3
  • M-39 at Schoolcraft Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1961, Last Inspected: 5/10/06) Rating: 3
  • M-39 at Tireman Avenue in Detroit (Built in 2005, Last Inspected: 2/21/06) Rating: 3
  • M-39 at Curtis Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1963, Last Inspected: 9/21/06) Rating: 3
  • M-39 at Firtzpatrick Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1963, Last Inspected: 7/20/07) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Trumbull Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1954, Last Inspected: 5/16/06) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at West Grand Boulevard in Detroit (Built in 1953, Last Inspected: 4/30/07) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Beaubien Street in Detroit (Built in 1955, Last Inspected: 4/5/06) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Brush Street in Detroit (Built in 1955, Last Inspected: 5/17/06) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Cadillac Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1957, Last Inspected: 4/16/07) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Cass Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1955, Last Inspected: 8/21/06) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Second Boulevard in Detroit (Built in 1954, Last Inspected: 5/16/06) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Chene Street in Detroit (Built in 1956, Last Inspected: 3/13/07) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at McClelland Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1957, Last Inspected: 5/24/06) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at French Road in Detroit (Built in 1957, Last Inspected: 4/16/07) Rating: 3
  • I-94 at Gratiot Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1958, Last Inspected: 3/31/06) Rating: 3
  • I-96 at the U-Turn North of Grand River Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1972, Last Inspected: 3/27/07) Rating: 3
  • I-75 at Porter Street in Detroit (Built in 1970, Last Inspected: 5/17/06) Rating: 3
  • I-75 at Cass Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1967, Last Inspected: 9/7/06) Rating: 3
  • I-75 at Clay Avenue in Detroit (Built in 1969, Last Inspected: 5/5/06) Rating: 3
  • Fort Street at Pleasant Street in Detroit (Built in 1928, Last Inspected: 12/13/06) Rating: 3
  • Fort Street at Sanders Street in Detroit (Built in 1928, Last Inspected: 12/13/06) Rating: 3
  • US-12 at Greenfield Road in Dearborn (Built in 1961, Last Inspected: 7/16/07) Rating: 3
  • I-75 at Commor Avenue in Hamtramck (Built in 1969, Last Inspected: 9/21/06) Rating: 3
  • I-75 at Caniff Avenue & Turn in Hamtramck (Built in 1969, Last Inspected: 9/21/06) Rating: 3
  • I-275 Sb Exit Ramp by The Lower Rouge River in Wayne (Built in 1974; Repaired in 2006, Last Inspected: 8/9/05) Rating: 3
  • I-75 at Sibley Road in Taylor (Built in 2006, Last Inspected: 9/13/06) Rating: 3

 

If you are driving along any of these bridges or under these bridges on the highway, take extreme caution. Some of these bridges may not be repaired for another four years. They will get worse over time. Be on the lookout for falling concrete or debris on those bridges highlighted above.

What can the average motorist do? "If their bridges are in dangerous condition, get on the case of local politicians. Otherwise, the community is in risk of being the next I-35," LePatner said.

MDOT has announced that it will begin working on bridges and highway overpasses over the next five years. In 2008, bridges will be repaired from I-96 at Novi Road to I-696 at Orchard Lake Road, near I-696 at Mound Road and I-75 from the Wayne County border to Gibraltar Road.

In 2009, bridges will be repaired on I-696 from Groesbeck Highway to I-94, on M-39 (Southfield Freeway) from McNichols Road to M-10 (Lodge Freeway), on M-53 (Van Dyke Avenue) from 18 Mile Road to 27 Mile Road and on I-94 from Allington Street to south of Gratiot Avenue. In 2010, bridges that will receive work include I-275 from the south Wayne County line to south of M-14, M-59 from Crooks Road to Widetrack and I-94 from County Line Road to Allington Street. The final year of the construction phase will be 2011 with bridges being repaired on I-94 at the I-275 interchange and at I-94 at the I-69 interchange.

 

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

The guardrail along this stretch of Five Mile Road has been damaged over I-275 in Livonia.

 

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

This turnaround is east of Levan Road and runs on top of the Jeffries Freeway (I-96).

 

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Chips of concrete have fallen off and the steel structure of the bridge is rusted.

 

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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.

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