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Posted on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

Ann Arbor's East Stadium Boulevard bridges officially open to traffic

By Amy Biolchini


Motorists driver over the newly constructed East Stadium Boulevard bridges in Ann Arbor right after the roadway opened for the first time about 4:10 p.m. Wednesday.

Melanie Maxwell |

Ann Arbor construction crews removed the “Road closed” signs on both sides of the East Stadium Boulevard bridges about 4:10 p.m. Wednesday to the anticipation of many area drivers.

Automotive traffic immediately took to the newly-built structure, with many drivers honking enthusiastically as they drove across while workers who were still putting the finishing touches on the project waved back in acknowledgement.

No ceremony marked the opening of the bridge to traffic; only the removal of the signs from each side indicated to area motorists that they could drive over the bridge.

On the west side, cars lined up about three to four deep to be the first drivers to experience the bridges. On the east side, an eager motorcyclist skirted the barricades in advance of the road opening before he was instructed to turn around.

Michael Nearing, senior project manager for Ann Arbor, was on the site Wednesday to ensure that the final moments of the $22.8 million replacement of the 83-year-old spans over State Street went smoothly.

After several initial waves of cars and vans had zoomed across the 35 mph roadway for the first time, Nearing reflected on the road’s opening.

“It’s kind of anti-climactic,” he said of the project that’s been under way for about a year.


Charmie Gholson of Ann Arbor poses with construction workers Wednesday afternoon with a sign she and Kristin Sumrall made to celebrate the opening of the East Stadium Boulevard bridges in Ann Arbor.

Courtesy of Kristin Sumrall

Motorists will likely experience some daytime lane closures on the new bridges, as some work still needs to be done, Nearing said.

Crews still need to clear the staging grounds for the construction that are just south of the bridge off of State Street. Additionally, the bridge needs to be cleaned of construction dust and several railings need to be installed on pedestrian staircases.

The new LED overhead street lights along the new East Stadium Boulevard bridges also need to be electronically synced. For the first several days, Nearing said they would be manually operated.

The spans of the old bridges had been crumbling and traffic was reduced to one lane in each direction from January 2009 until the bridges' demolition last year. More than 48,000 vehicles traveled on the old bridges per day, as the road is one of the main east to west corridors in Ann Arbor.

The project is funded in part by a $13.9 million, highly competitive federal grant secured in 2010 with the assistance of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn. About $2.9 million of the project's funding is from the state of Michigan.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

yeah!woopy wow!

Jessica Webster

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Ha! That first minivan over the bridge was driven by my father-in-law, with my son in the back seat. We're all so very excited about this bridge reopening.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

a picture for the ages


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Is the video coming out on DVD? It is surely something that I want to watch over and over again. Not to mention, it would make a great Christmas gift!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

As bridges tend to ice up and people have to come to a sudden stop at the crosswalk (as well as those behind them), it seems like the crosswalk could have been a little farther out- closer to the stadium instead of right as the bridge ends. The bridge itself is very nice though!


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:25 a.m.

nit pick,nit pick,nit pick


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Hi Charmie!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

This bridge completes my life now and ensures my happiness to be complete for years to come. May 11-15-2012 always be held in remembrance of the day Ann Arbor's bridge was completed especially since AAnews gave this bridge much more print time than Veterans Day articles. They should name this Bridge "George Bush" bridge to honor all the liberal people in Ann Arbor. If this happened I bet people wouldn't be in love with the bridge anymore. Thank you for your time, in the future I will be writing many more enlightening comments on AAnews full of wisdom and knowledge like I just written. My credentials are I have a BS degree in Women's Studies and I'm an assistant shift supervisor at Starbucks.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

do i sense some sarcasm?

peg dash fab

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

Dude (or ma'am), you could give Thomas Partridge a run for his money in public comments at City Council meetings. Please!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

The nice thing about infrastructure improvements, mohomed, is that they benefit everyone, regardless of political stance, age, race, gender, etc. Cheer up!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Anyone else notice that the pavement is really loud?

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Imagine how people will feel when there is a new bridge to Canada.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.



Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

Thanks for the video! I drove it twice a day for years before retiring. What an improvement and relief! Congrats, Ann Arbor!!!

Olan Owen Barnes

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 7:24 a.m.

Passed over around 5:30 and what a great improvement - now I do not have to go down I-94 to get from one side of town to the other.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Not two years. Only eleven and a half months.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 8:01 a.m.

If you had to go down 94 to get from one side of town to the other, you must not know the roads around here.... there are plenty of alternatives and you had two years to discover them.....


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:15 a.m.

For the first time ever, a road project in Ann Arbor has not narrowed a 2-lane road down to one. Truly, this is a historic event.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

Agreed! God save us once they begin screwing up Jackson Rd. next year!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:05 a.m.

Why is it referred to as bridges and not bridge? Are there multiple bridges? Also, did Nearing really say anti-climatic or is that simply a typo?


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

what do u think?

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

Sorry everyone! I completely missed jscd91's intention the first time around. Thanks, Susan Montgomery, for pointing that out. I've fixed the typo.

Susan Montgomery

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Ummm... Amy, jscd91 was pointing out a typo... "climatic"


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 8:03 a.m.

it is, indeed, two bridges, not one. the first bridge spans state st., the second one spans the railroad tracks just a little west of State St. Where have you been? This stuff has been discussed for over two years.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.

The structure spans both a railroad line and State Street, so I believe that's why it's called "bridges" and not "bridge." Nearing did in fact say "anti-climactic;" he was not visibly excited when I talked to him. I agree; seems like a counter-intuitive reaction, but there is still plenty of work to be done on the bridges that will require some daytime lane closures.

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

I am more excited about this than I was about the birth of my children. OK, maybe not. I specialize in hyperbole. Still....This is FANTASTIC news. I had the day off today. But tomorrow? Bright and early? I'll be headed from home (Platt/Ellsworth) to work (Liberty/Wagner). And it will be GLORIOUS to not have to detour down Eisenhower/Main/Scio Church/etc. I am ready to do the happy dance. This is so cool! Yay! (And, yes. I need to get a life.)


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

oh ya!

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

this engineering marvel was worth the wait!


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:31 a.m.

it's a bridge after all.nothing more.nothing less.

peg dash fab

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.



Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Not to be the turd in the punch bowl, but for heaven's sake it's not the Brooklyn Bridge.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

It's nice, but I miss the trees (and I bet the people of the house on the southeast corner of the bridge/State Street do too)!


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

WooHoo! drove over it just over an hour ago, able to avoid the M14 chaos for the first time in a year. Great. Looks very nice. Disappointing that the road surface between Main and the bridge is still so awful, but you can't have evrything and we'd all have moaned if it had been closed even longer to fix that!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

They didn't fix that part of the road yet because of the fact that heavy construction equipment and football traffic were going to be present. I think I remember something about that part of the roadway being worked on next spring.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

Yeah, I don't understand why they didn't fix that while the bridge was out.


Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

Drove over it about half an hour after it opened. A smooth ride, indeed. Much of Stadium Ave from Washtenaw to Packard and now the bridges section is a very smooth and safe ride.

Amy Biolchini

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

Michael Nearing may like to downplay the opening of the bridge -- rightly so; there's still plenty of work to be done -- but there was definitely an air of excitement out there this afternoon. Workers seemed eager to clear the heavy equipment off the road and open it up to traffic. Some drivers went across the bridges, turned around, and drove back the other way.

Jessica Webster

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

We drove over it at 6 and people were still honking with joy as they drove across.

Tom Drake

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

the new bridges are awesome and the view is fantastic. what sounded like it would take forever has seemed to have been done quickly now that it's almost done. great job folks , thanks for an instant classic.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:31 a.m.

now you have a new toy to play with

Linda Peck

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

Congratulations to all involved! It looks great and I will be looking forward to my trip across.