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Posted on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Ann Arbor Stadium bridges reopening a relief to all

By Kyle Mattson

After years of debates, complaints, and delays, Ann Arbor drivers will finally be able to cross the East Stadium Boulevard Bridges pothole-free starting Wednesday. Just about everyone around the city has had to dodge the bridges at some point over the past year. I, personally, made a few habitual turns and ended up facing a road-closed sign a number of times.

Officials expect to open the East Stadium Boulevard to traffic Wednesday afternoon. The exact time has not been determined, but senior project manager Michael G. Nearing said he expects it to be open by 5 p.m. In the coming days, there will be intermittent lane closures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while workers put the finishing touches on the bridges.

Here's a look at how various constituencies will benefit from the reopening:

Ann Arbor residents

Calling the closing of Stadium Boulevard an inconvenience would be an understatement. Even before the crumbling structure was closed, drivers avoided the bridges because of their deteriorating condition. Now, with four lanes, sidewalks, staircases, and on-street bike lanes, the entire city is connected east to west.

Business owners

Although South State businesses had relief from the closures when the underpass reopened, the bridge project was a headache for businesses across the city. West-siders can again easily get to Trader Joe's and east-siders can dine at Zingerman's Roadhouse without a detour.


Although it will only provide traffic relief to Michigan football fans for the final home game of the 2012 season, the new bridge will clear up much of the confusion for Ann Arbor visitors. More importantly, it may serve as a starting point for the proposed South State Street improvement project. No longer will out of town visitors be welcomed by a deteriorating structure surrounded by construction signs, instead, it will serve as a gateway into downtown much like the Broadway bridges do for those entering from the north.

How were you affected by the bridge construction? Tell us in the comments below.



Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

bye bye dewey, bye bye packard. bye bye industrial. yea stadium blvd.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

A massive example of utilitarian public art - pulled off under our very noses!! Drat! Foiled again! ;-)


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

I shudder to think how much extra I've spent on gas going around this construction.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 2:31 a.m.

Not to be pickey, but the picture is of "nuts and washers" not "bolts and washers"


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

great news! I can't wait to take my maiden voyage tomorrow!


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

I find it refreshing that this project was completed in less than 12 months (especially compared to the 'Library Lot' timeline, as well as the relatively slow 2012 Stadium resurfacing) and for less money than it would have taken to remodel the downtown library branch.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

The one thing I'll remember the most was the commanding view when the old bridge was removed. I took a walk northbound on State looking at the athletic buildings and the sky was open and the view unimpeded. I know it's impractical and the bridge is essential, but the view was nice without the bridge for that brief time and totally unusual because that bridge was around forever. I'm sure I'll enjoy the open view on the walkway up on the bridge looking down on the sport fields just as much.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

I am so ridiculously excited about this that I feel like I should grab myself by the shoulders and yell at myself to get a life.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

Lets hope they don't make this into art. Scary thought.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 4:25 a.m.

This is without doubt one of the best comments you've ever made. It should be put on a brass plaque and attached to this bridge. :-) Thanks for the chuckle - it's certainly appropriate.

Urban Sombrero

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

I could not agree more, jns. This will cut a good 15 minutes off of my commute home. (My commute in is always so much quicker because I leave at 7 AM. But getting off at 5 P.M. can mean incredibly traffic.) Plus, it'll be so much easier to go across town. I'm incredibly happy about this! :)


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

Trust you me, I feel the same way. Washtenaw was about the only way around town and thru town. This way I can do both.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

I'm glad that this project is completing ahead of schedule, And kudos to the designers, engineers, and construction workers for building a beautiful bridge, but can someone explain to me why we had to expend 24 million dollars for a new bridge instead of just taking it down to a 4-way intersection?


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

Regularly like once each season? I get stopped by a train at least once a week.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 3:01 a.m.

LOL I've lived in Ann Arbor for 36 years, travel S. State regularly both day and night and I can remember only one instance of having to wait for a train crossing


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

Because of the train tracks. Long, slow trains regularly come through regularly, and not always at night, that would block the intersection for several minutes. It is bad enough that State and Stimson traffic has to sit and wait.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

SkyJ- This was actually a heavily discussed topic in articles leading up to the actual construction, I'd suggest going back to give them a read if you have a chance.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

Just for reference the construction will not be deemed 'officially' complete until the spring when the landscaping and clean up will be done for obvious reasons. Here is a link to the project timeline showing all stages of the project:


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

OH YES you can bet the art commission will find something stupid to put up. they have a mil they need to spend. that is before the city finally realizes that it is a was of money sitting in the bank for them to spend. i have a suggestion finish (job) the crosswalks on stadium with lights that are still not up. if someone gets injured i am sure you had enough notice that they are not up.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

Brad? Hush. We don't want to think of that aspect.. Just clean up the mess and go away.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

The timeline doesn't show the installation of the $400K worth of taxpayer-funded art. Any idea when we might be blessed with that?


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

Thank you Obama! Without him, we might have been able to justify this repair on our own without having to borrow the money from China.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

The bridge cost $23 million. The city's general fund budget is right at $80 million. So, lacking substantial tax increases or cuts in services, there was no way the city could pay for this. And I'd be willing to bet that the original bridges were paid for by state and/or federal money. It is long established practice that state and federal funds pay for construction and major maintance of major thoroughfares. But yours is a nice if totally irrelevant talking point. Bu let me make a suggestion: protest the construction of the bridge by not using them. Ever.

Dog Guy

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

What is the clearance height now for State Street traffic?


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 12:47 a.m.

School buses need at least 13 height to go under without getting stuck. Most buses are around 11 or 12 height. No higher. I am thinking 14 which is what one is on 94. I did see a sign that said Tuesday nite. I plan to cross this on Wednesday.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

"...which, correct me if I'm wrong..." Don't worry, Kyle. We will.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

Not totally sure on the official final height Dog Guy, they have yet to install the MODT clearance signs and the blueprints we have on file do not reference it. I do know one of the project needs was raising the clearance height from 13'6", which (correct me if I'm wrong) is actually the height maximum for trucks in Michigan so I suspect its a couple feet higher now.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

It was worth the wait for more bike paths......yippeeeeee!


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who made habitual turns.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

That pic of bolts and washers on a truck. Wow. That's some compelling stuff right there.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

The Aorta of Ann Arbor will be throbbing with life once again. I have been badly inconvenienced all year; can't wait to take my first ride across the bridge tomorrow.

Jim Walker

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

This is great news for most of us. Kudos to the Project Management team for a job well done. But I would caution drivers to look for possible speed trap activity for westbound drivers when conditions are good and the traffic is free flowing. The posted 35 mph limit coming down the hill from the bridge toward the stadium is way under-posted according to accepted engineering standards and state laws. The 85th percentile speed there under good conditions is 45 mph. Before the bridge work started, it was common to see an officer running a speed trap sitting near the gates to the stadium just past the Arena. In perhaps the most outrageous example, a few years ago the trap was being run at about 8 PM on Easter Sunday night when the traffic was extremely light and there was no reason to drive slowly - so each car was a "sitting duck" for the trap. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Jim Walker

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

For Basic Bob Yes people can go to court and challenge unfair speed limits that are not set according to state law and are therefore unenforceable. But it takes research, time, and determination to do that - so most folks just send in the money -- even though a great many posted speed limits are illegally established under state law and are not enforceable. Our own 15th District Court has ruled several times that these limits are illegal and has thrown specific cases out of court when people knew how to make the arguments. But the city continues to issue tickets and collect the money, secure in the knowledge that most people don't know how to fight and/or won't take the time and effort to do so. James C. Walker, National Motorist Association, Ann Arbor, MI


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 4:47 a.m.

Well now, we can't have anything slowing down our peerless national motorists, can we? Too busy converting human beings to road kill are we?? Ride a bike or take a hike, Walker. ;-)

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 12:17 a.m.

"If the municipality has reason are they not allowed to set the speed to whatever they deem safe? " They can't defend it in court based on an arbitrary reason. So they can write a lot of tickets, but folks who contest it will get the case thrown out by the judge. And judges don't like to see their courtrooms filled with innocent drivers, it interferes with due process for those who deserve it.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

I understand those to be guidelines, not set laws. If the municipality has reason are they not allowed to set the speed to whatever they deem safe? Personally I can't see any reason to get up to 45 from Packard just so I can stop at Main. But, if you like driving up the price of gas....

Use Logic

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

@Foobar - the prevailing 'law' in this case is state law, which states that a traffic study must be done on the roadway. The speed at which most (85%) of drivers travel during the study is then supposed to become the true speed limit (aside from certain criteria). Per Jim's point, the 85th percentile is 45mph, which means state law dictates that is what the speed limit needs to be set at. As such, it is Ann Arbor who is breaking the law in setting and enforcing artificially low speed limits on Stadium, not those drivers who simply go with the flow of traffic.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Each car was a "speeding duck", rather.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

"... no reason to drive slowly ..." except for vulnerable pedestrians, cyclists? It's not all about how fast cars can go. How about just obeying the law?


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

I know that it seems like two years (or even more), but the bridge wasn't totally closed until November 27, the Monday after the final home football game last year. It's not even been closed for a full year, which if you think about it is pretty darn good considering what was done.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

How does someone in a wheel chair get up and down the stairs? Is this completed Project ADA compliant? Just asking.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

By Rose-White Park, there is a switchback ramp up onto the bridge. You do not need to use the stairs.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

They go the 1/2 block to the sidewalk intead...By the way, traffic bridges do not need to be ADA compliant -- the sidewalk does. The staircases are "plusses" that don't require ADA approval.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8 p.m.

While a bit of a headache, it has created two perks that I hope remain once it has reopened: the double left turn from S. Main onto Eisenhower and the installation of a left turn arrow at Eisenhower and Boardwalk.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

Murf, that double left turn has been a big help, I agree. They also created a double right turn from eastbound Stadium, to S. Main Street, by Pioneer. I'm not sure if they will keep that, once they open up the bridge tomorrow.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

Ditto. @fjord: I think the reason it has not been an improvement is because too many drivers do not realize you can turn right on a red arrow after you stop. A solution may be to make it a flashing red arrow when not green, or set it to green unless traffic northbound out of Briarwood has the green.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

I also hope they keep the yellow left turn arrow from Ike to S. Industrial


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

They also created a double right turn from westbound Eisenhower onto South Main, but it hasn't really been an improvement. I'd be happy to see that revert to its previous configuration.

Frustrated in A2

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

Agreed! I live near Main & Eisenhower and its annoying when you have to sit through 2 cycles of the light to make a left turn onto eastbound Eisenhower.

Atticus F.

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Excellent point!

Atticus F.

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Thank goodness. I've been driving 10 minutes extra per day, 5 days a week, for the last 2 years to get to work.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

Atticus, it ain't "...could be wrong".


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Closed right after the Ohio State game last year. So it has actually been less than a year.

Atticus F.

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

ok, Maybe it was 1.5 years. I think they closed all lanes down around the June of 2011. Although I could be wrong.

Andy Frazier

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

Me too, Atticus!


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Two years? So you started a year early just to get used to it, or what?


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Thank god they waited until after Art Fair and the end of football season to finish.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

Hey peeps .... I'm 99% certain that UncleMao is being sarcastic.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

UncleMao- Having once worked in the industry I can say that it would have been incredibly costly and near impossible to finish a project of this scale by the end of June (essentially a 6 month timeline and in the winter). I was just glad the closure of State Street was limited during construction and the entire project will be finished by first snowfall (same goes for the M-14 project).

Andrea Zastrow

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

Welcome back, Bridge! I've missed you terribly.