East Stadium Bridges: Risk to public from falling "football sized"concrete
Drivers and pedestrians on South State Street below the decaying East Stadium bridges could be in danger.
An engineering firm warned the city of Ann Arbor last month that it's possible - though not likely - thatÂ "football sized" concrete could fall from the bridge, injuring anyone below.
The city is currently considering a possible $22.1 million reconstruction over three years of two of the bridges spans on East Stadium Boulevard.Â
In a letter obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Jon Drummond of Northwest Consultants Inc., a civil, structural and environmental engineering firm based in Toledo, expressed concerns over safety measures used to keep traffic off the worst parts of the bridge. He also recommended actions to further protect drivers along South State Street below the bridge.
The firm inspected the bridges on Sept. 15.
In the section of the letter marked "Additional Safety Measures," Drummond writes:
"First, the City's maintenance crews are doing an excellent job of removing loose chunks of concrete from the beams, but there are limits to how often they can perform this work. Accessing the bridge to remove the loose concrete is a complicated process involving heavy equipment and disruption to State Street traffic. Since they cannot be on site continually, there is still a possibility (albeit a much smaller possibility) that a large piece of concrete from a beam could fall and injure someone."
Drummond and city engineer Michael Nearing characterized the size of the concrete pieces that might fall as "football sized."
"No one can predict with certainty what size would fall off," Nearing told AnnArbor.com.
Drummond's recommendations include alternatives such as removing the five southernmost beams of the bridge; removing only the 5th beam, "which is by far in the worst condition and represents the biggest concern to public safety;" and installing temporary concrete barriers to keep traffic from driving over the worst parts of the bridge when traffic is backed up - including during football games.
What we don't know yet
No discussion of the condition of the bridges was on the Ann Arbor City Council's work session agenda from Monday.
No agenda is available yet for next Monday's City Council meeting, but discussions with city staff indicate the project is expected to be on the agenda.
What it cost us to find this information
The FOIA request was fulfilled for a cost of $1.75.
Here's a recent partial timeline of the East Stadium bridges project from the FOIA request:
- Sept. 13: FOIA letter sent by AnnArbor.com requesting "copies of the most recent East Stadium bridge inspection forms or reports submitted to MDOT, including the Bridge Safety Inspection Report (form P2502) and the Structure Inventory and Appraisal report (form 1717A); and the most recent report or correspondence from Northwest Consulants Inc. on the condition of the East Stadium bridges".
- Sept. 14: FOIA received; assigned tracking code 09-194 Vielmetti.
- Sept. 15: Inspection of the bridge performed by Northwest Consultants; it had been previously scheduled, after delays associated with other construction on South State Street, in August.
- Sept. 17: Letter written by John Drummond, Northwest Consultants.
- Sept. 21: FOIA extension requested by the city via the Project Management office.
- Sept. 22: Drummond letter stamped "received" by City of Ann Arbor Project Management.
- Oct. 2: FOIA request granted.
Full text of the Drummond letter of Sept. 17, 2009
Edward Vielmetti is lead blogger for AnnArbor.com. He avoids driving under the South State Street bridge at Stadium Boulevard. Contact him at email@example.com.