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Posted on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 1:40 p.m.

Ann Arbor's Stadium Boulevard bridges fail to make list of federal TIGER grant recipients

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor may have to dig deeper into its own pockets to reconstruct the two East Stadium Boulevard bridge spans over South State Street and the nearby railroad tracks.


The Stadium bridge spans over South State Street, shown here, and the nearby railroad tracks will be reconstructed later this year, with or without TIGER grant funding.

Angela Cesere |

The city's bridge project didn't make the list of projects announced today to receive TIGER grant funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The city had asked for $21 million to put toward the $22 million project to reconstruct the failing bridges.

Homayoon Pirooz, head of the city's project management unit, said he's still waiting for official confirmation that the city's grant was unsuccessful, but acknowledges he didn't see it on the list.

The federal TIGER program - standing for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery - reportedly received $56.5 billion in requests from communities all across the country for $1.5 billion in available stimulus funding. 

It was Ann Arbor's best chance at repairing the Stadium bridges without depleting its own street fund resources.


The city estimated 29 street projects would have to be reduced or postponed if the city had to pay for 100 percent of the replacement of the Stadium bridges.

Pirooz said the city still plans to move forward with the Stadium bridge project in November or December, even if that means spending its own money. That could put 29 other street projects on hold.

"We're still pursuing other federal funds, but we're not going to get a lump sum of $20 million," he said. "We could get monies from other kinds of federal funds and we plan to share that information with the City Council as we learn more about all these different funds in March. There are several grants that we are working on and we are planning to apply."

Ann Arbor resident Arnold Goetzke said he still thinks the city could cut the $22 million cost of the project in half by constructing at-grade crossings instead of completely reconstructing the bridges. City officials said Tuesday night that's not a viable option.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Basic Bob

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

@Gill, I find it positive that the city will proceed to replace the bridges regardless of federal funding. As Mayor Lefty says, why wait for the state to do something? Thanks to term limits, most of them are out looking for new jobs.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 9:47 a.m.

Look to U of M for the blueprint on how to receive funding. They just received 50% funding for their North University Avenue transit project, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The City could use this example as a template for Stadium Bridge reconstruction, possibly receiving 50% funding, as well. With other funds available, why did the City pursue Tiger Funds for Stadium Bridge? Tiger Funds had $56.5 billion in requests competing for $1.5 billion in funding. Maybe the City does not want federal project dollars. They DO want reasons for Headlee rollback tax increases, and institution of income tax. Stadium Bridge adds to their reasoning for both. While looking to U of M for the blueprint, dont look to them for funding. Local traffic projects are of small concern to U of M. Traffic projects are of interest when they directly affect U of M function. One could even imagine that U of M could benefit from the closure of Stadium Bridge. The Stadium Boulevard portion west of the bridge, east of Main Street, is a high-traffic way that now separates U of M golf course from the stadium. It could be much friendlier to thousands of pedestrian users, minus vehicular traffic. Out-of-town feeder traffic to U of M events from all other roads will be exactly the same. Traffic entering the City from State Street, A2-Saline Road, Maple Road, and Main Street are unaltered. Given this scenario, it is difficult to imagine U of M as being a viable, logical funding source for Stadium Bridge. Their interest in bridge closure could be greater than their interest in bridge reconstruction.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

Agitated divergence of superfluous topics. Anyone have anything positive or happy to share?


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 2:03 p.m.

@ -bellhelment, Taubman sold Briarwood Mall years ago. I think the Simon Group now owns the mall.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

Do have traffic count for Main Street? For the days planned to have one lane closed for the ugly Big House construction, charge $10 to U of M accordingly. There is the fund for the repair.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

So. Just have the Police write more tickets. duh. I'm not even in city government and I know that the best way to raise money is to fine motorists.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 7:33 a.m.

We should scale back the scope of work to just repair the damaged bridge. We cannot afford the Broadway Bridge pricetag this year. I agree with the person above: rebid on a significantly re-scoped project.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 11:41 p.m.

The other question is why only $1.5 billion out of 750 billion is for safer roads and bridges? Did Levin and Stabenow vote for that?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 11:39 p.m.

Who's decided to keep it open while it is crumbling? Is the Mayor taking on that responsibility? From how the bridge looks and from driving over it, I wonder if it is safe to keep open? The U-M really needs to fork over some money for this, as their stadium traffic and more recently construction has helped to destroy it. I agree that if it were closed then U-M may do something. If they have enough money to make the stadium an ugly monstrosity representing greed, then they can afford the $22 million pittance it would take to fix it.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 10:40 p.m.

what is with the mountain of dirt at PiHi anyway?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 9:39 p.m.

Both the State of Michigan AND the Federal Government have been paying lip service to improving this country's crumbling infrastructure for many years. Yet, they fail time and time again to take action to raise the necessary revenue to get it done. $1.5 billion for projects around the country is an absurdly small amount of money. And Michigan MUST start taking more of a role in fixing its own roads - otherwise our hopes of rebuilding the economy will be derailed before even getting started.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 9:30 p.m.

Yes taxes need to be cut. I am tired of paying for some bridge in AA that I might see once a year. Let the city of AA pay for it if they want it. Heck I live on a dirt road and you do not see me crying for the people of AA to pay to pave it. The Owebama team has already spent about a million time more than they should have. Get over it.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 8:54 p.m.

Economic conditions, as well as a lack of Federal dollars, should result in lower bids for the work. New bids, for only what we need, instead of all that we want, should be solicited immediately.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 8:36 p.m.

Like it MjC...i could find a couple of choice spots around town to toll.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 8:29 p.m.

Put a toll booth on that bridge, sell a park or two - let's just get it fixed before it comes crumbling down!!

scooter dog

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

Shut them down and when the u of m loses a few million in lost ticket sales from football/basketball/ect they will pony up the funds for the new bridges

Lynn Lumbard

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 6:51 p.m.

Ryan, Who is responsible for writing the grant(s) for this project?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 6:31 p.m.

Frasier has been watching the heap of ruins crumble ever since he has been here. Time for a new Administrator!


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 5:36 p.m.

"And yet! We'll have a new city hall that will benefit more people in the city than the bridge!" Wait, do you mean the new Police & Courts building?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 5:33 p.m.

And yet! We'll have a new city hall that will benefit more people in the city than the bridge! All the while, City Manager Fraser will revel in his Ann Arbor Township home enjoying the 3% that he doesn't have to give back to the city and, taxing citizens using listening to their i-pods while riding their bikes through town, only because they want to be green and not waste our limited resources. Stay tune kids, more to come from the A2 Folly Channel!!

John of Saline

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 5:29 p.m.

"Signalize"? Another noun got verbed.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.

Well, that intersection proposed above wouldn't fit in many locations in Ann Arbor. The city owns the same amount of land as the Packard / Stadium intersection. Instead of showing us what doesn't work, how about showing us what would work? Nobody is recommending we shut down the Packard intersection, or install a bridge. Hoping for money that could be used for other critical needs is not appropriate. As for the railroad, they have zero problem executing eminent domain whe it comes to the land use. And, other states are allowed crossings - even for private use - if they provide an economic benefit. If it takes a trip to court to save $12 million, then it is a worth while trip to court. That is the attitude people must have. Instead, we seem to have the attitude of cutting staff and potentially raising Income Taxes.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 4:47 p.m.

My solution. Put a tunnel steel tube over state street. Take some of that 3 story high dirt hill by Pioneer High School and put it over the tunnel and repave Stadium. Or Can we be Duke Boys and make it into a jump. Bad idea - some idiot will be texting or talking on the cell phone not realize they need to go 45 mph to make it across the gap.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 4:12 p.m.

If you watched the meeting last night you also learned that the A2 RR said they would absolutely not allow the use of their right of way to build an at grade crossing. It sounds like they said, "take us to court." Railroads are also immune to eminent domain. If the at grade crossing idea cost less and could be done, the city would do it. The Broadway Bridges were falling down too, with big chunks of cement falling when the city finally got the state money to cover 80% of the cost. No other city in Michigan would be able to take this project on. It does seem like there is still hope for other $$ as fall approaches.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 4:08 p.m.

Here's another document, albeit dated, that may be useful to those trying to understand the city's reasons for discrediting the no-bridge option.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

Here's a map showing an at-grade crossing scenario with notes from Pirooz.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

"Make the motorcade in May go over and under that bridge so Obama can see first hand that America is crumbling under his reign!" Ummm, the crumbling was instituted by the Bush-the-lesser years. InsideTheHall, can I borrow all your credit cards, max them out, give them back to you, and blame you for not being more responsible with your debt?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

Ryan,,, I appreciate your posting the Michael Neering note. But, it misses several points. The study mentioned only lists the societal costs of having an at grade intersection, and do not take into account the societal costs of a bridge - i.e. having to make 3 left turns to get from state to stadium. Plus, Ann Arbor does not install bridges as a traffic calming measure. When was the last time the city recommended a bridge - say at Huron and Washtenaw - instead of a traffic signal. And, the study did not include the possibility of eliminating stop lights at Stimpson. I'd be curious as to when the traffic model was run. It was my understanding that it was assuming peak traffic, but that is not realistic since the train is used outside of business hours. I wonder how many crashes would be predicted at the 8 other crossings in Ann Arbor. Probably a high amount, but I don't think it would align with real world numbers. Regardless. The cost of an at grade road is half the cost of installing the bridges. The city acknowledges it. Sure, that is still a lot of money, but it is half the cost, providing the same level of service to the taxpayer.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:33 p.m.

Demolish the bridges and close the Stadium route. If UM wants access to the stadium, Chrysler and the golf course, they can certainly fund the construction of new bridges to open Stadium Blvd.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

Where is the Great Obama and his wad of stimulus cash for shovel ready projects?????? The Great Obama dissing the People's Republic of Ann Arbor. Make the motorcade in May go over and under that bridge so Obama can see first hand that America is crumbling under his reign! Oh the symbolism.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

Michael Nearing, senior project manager in the city's project management division, wrote the following e-mail to Homayoon Pirooz on March 16, 2009: Les and I have performed a preliminary analysis that indicates that an at-grade crossing of E. Stadium Boulevard with the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks and E. Stadium Boulevard with S. State Street is not economically justified or even appears to be a feasible option. The No-bridge Option has very significant capital costs associated with removing the old bridges, hauling away all the existing embankment, building new storm sewers, constructing signalized intersections, signalized railroad crossings, and right-of-way impacts along E. Stadium Boulevard and S. State Street. I'm sure that there are other capital costs associated with the No-bridge Option that we have not mentioned here. The at-grade intersection of S. State Street and E. Stadium Boulevard and an at-grade crossing of the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks will also create significant societal costs. The societal costs include an estimated nineteen crashes at the E. Stadium Boulevard/S. State Street intersection each year. The most optimistic railroad crash prediction model indicates that we could expect eight car/train incidents each year. Several of these crashes can be expected to be severe. While we are not stating that we believe there will be eight accidents at an at-grade crossing of E. Stadium and the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks each year, we do clearly believe that crashes will occur. The crash predictions are based on the current railroad traffic of two trains per day. We expect that any future vision of this area will include additional rail traffic through this area. This increase in rail traffic will only increase the probability of more car/train crashes. These types of crashes are virtually always severe and expensive in terms of both property damage and physical injury. There are other societal costs also associated with at-grade intersections. These include include lost time associated with intersection delays, pollution, and extra fuel consumption. When these costs are capitalized over the expected life span of the bridges, they become of very significant as well. Finally, with the specific configuration of the railroad tracks with both E. Stadium Boulevard and S. State Street, a train as it passes through this particular section of town will almost assuredly block both E. Stadium Boulevard and S. State Street simultaneously. This will have significant impacts to traffic on both E. Stadium Boulevard and S. State Street. These delays will cause gridlock in this section of town for a significant amount of time after the train passes. This will cause user delays and additional costs that haven't been included in our analysis, but will clearly make an already unattractive option, much worse.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:25 p.m.

I do not think it is the job of the U of M to fund projects of this sort. This is clearly a public works project. If you were to use the argument of proximity to the university, than most roads could be claimed to be of direct benefit to them.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:24 p.m.

I'm with Bruce. Let's just repair the bridge and put it back into service. There's no need to replace the RR bridge and we don't need this $22 million+, 2-bridge, bike path, etc. etc., mega project coming out of our streets millage, when our streets and streetlights are failing all over town. I'm guessing (educated) $5 million tops to repair the State St. bridge in a manner that would last for many years. Maybe less depending on the method chosen.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

56 billion in requests for 1.5 billion in cash. Im sure very few of the requests were done for projects that were not deeply needed. Without going into the ever-more-asanine world of stimulus-bashing, I wonder how the sum for projects of this sort is not far greater, given the scope of the legislation.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:09 p.m.

"If anyone had the idea of waiting for the state to do something on this, all we have to do is take a look at what happened with smoking," Hieftje said." I don't know what that even means but the mayor and council were waiting to see if they could get grants to pay for this. That wait lasted till today, they didn't get them, and now they have to cough it up (unless they gring this up with UofM tongiht).


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

"Shame we can't use the money for the proposed unwanted expansion of Ann Arbor Airport." If we could that would be great...I'm totally against airport expansion.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:59 p.m.

Shame we can't use the money for the proposed unwanted expansion of Ann Arbor Airport. We could use the 850ft of extra concrete to fix the bridges. We certainly should not use any more of the City's General fund on this travesty.

Bruce Amrine

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

How much would it cost to just replace the beams on the existing foundations as a temporary fix until the economy improves or other money is available?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:49 p.m.

Now on to Plan C, D, E,...


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:42 p.m.

"No, road monies will be spent on new City Hall," Do you mean the new Courts and Police building?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:38 p.m.

Following the link to, Criteria #4 for funding: "Partnership. Demonstrating strong collaboration among a broad range of participants and/or integration of transportation with other public service efforts." City was asking for $21 million out of $22 million cost. Where is the University of Michigan's contribution? Why can't nail the UM administration down on why they don't see fit to contribute to this project (which needless to say is a half-mile from the stadium)? This is clearly why the project wasn't funded.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

Because of the city not getting any funds for this, rather than driving that route, I'm just gonna walk to City Hall and look at the new tin can building and urinal water art...


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

No, road monies will be spent on new City Hall, Hieftje underground parking garage, Hieftje folly fountain and wealthy art fund, Hieftje Hotel, Hieftje Conference Center, and Hieftje wealthy artists' commune. The bridge will fall. The road will close... unless the Hieftje income tax, or Hieftje Headlee rollback are instituted. Cheers!


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:10 p.m.

Well that sucks. Ok, now we can spend all the road monies the city has on this bridge.