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Posted on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

Project manager on Stadium bridges: 'Super-sized jackhammers' will beat 83-year-old spans into pieces

By Ryan J. Stanton

Detour routes diverting traffic from State Street and East Stadium Boulevard are now in effect in Ann Arbor, and crews are preparing to demolish the Stadium bridges.

But what exactly is it going to take to dismantle two 83-year-old bridge spans made of heavy steel and concrete over the next two weeks?

Part of the answer: "Super-sized jackhammers."

Michael Nearing, the city's senior project manager, spoke with at the site Monday afternoon as crews were finishing the long process of getting traffic detoured.

In addition to the detours, which started in the morning, crews are installing new sanitary and storm sewers near State Street and Rose Avenue.


Road closures are now in effect on State Street and East Stadium Boulevard as crews prepare to begin demolishing the Stadium bridges, a process that will last two weeks.

Ryan J. Stanton |

If everything goes well, Nearing said, the contractor will start sawing the bridge deck and separate the beams later in the afternoon.

"In order to tear down the bridge, the contractor is going to saw-cut the beams apart," he said. "We're going to lift them up, drag them to the side, haul them off on trucks. They're going to use pneumatic breakers, and they will break the abutments up into pieces."

Nearing explained it in more graphic terms.

"They're just going to take these super-sized jackhammers on the end of a backhoe arm and they're just going to beat it into pieces," he said. "We'll scoop up the pieces, throw them in a truck, and haul them out of there, and away we'll go."

Dan's Excavating Inc. is the general contractor and Parsons Brinkerhoff is the consulting firm the city retained to help with the construction engineering and project management.

Nearing said the demolition stage of the $22.8 million project to reconstruct the bridge spans over State Street and the nearby railroad tracks should last through Dec. 13.

"It's going to take a few days to take the bridge apart, it's going to take a few more days to install the underground utilities — assuming there's no conflicts in the ground — and then we have to put everything back together," he said. "We have to fix and repair State Street and then get it open for traffic. And then again, weather can always intervene."

After Dec. 13, Nearing said, "all kinds of work" related to the project will continue on site throughout the winter.

"We'll be working on building the bridge and doing other work, but State Street will open back up to two lanes — to one lane of traffic in each direction — after Dec. 13, until the spring when we start working on reconstructing Stadium," he said. "And then we'll be doing more underground utility work on the project and we'll start some retaining wall construction."

Nearing said there are no new updates on a possible public art installation the city might pay for as part of the project. He said he met with the Public Art Commission about a month ago and commissioners still were in the investigation phase at the time.

"They mentioned that they would kind of keep me involved somewhat, but at this point in time there are no definite plans," he said.

For more information about the project, including images and detour maps, visit, or follow the project step by step on Twitter and Facebook.

Previous story: 8 things to remember as the Stadium bridges project starts on Monday

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

The neighbors in the area will not be happy with the jackhammers.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

The Alaskan highway was built in 9 months during WW2 and it was over 1,300 miles in length. The conditions were horrific. Now, about 70 years later with all of our modern technology, it takes a year to build a bridge. Wow.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

Since I do not see it here, I can't resist the urge to say: Men and their boy toys hard at work.

toothless wonder

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

It will be one of the Wonders of The World upon completion, no doubt. It consists of: 3/4 of a mile of bad road in front of the stadium and then a 30 ft span built up on an earthen ramp: over the railroad(and so the railroad should have to pay, but I'm dreaming,and HOW often does that train use it??!)...and later on another 30 ft span then the other earthen ramp,followed by more horrendous road ending at Industrial. All contrived so as to make the whole she-bang into much more of a disaster area than need be... Are you sure you couldn't just tear down the earthen ramps and level the whole thing and then discover that: Roundabouts could have been used instead? The railroad could go thru there still, just have stuff on both sides of the tracks.. Maybe they could have used some of the dirt from the Stadium Debacle to fill in Hefty's Hole down by the library!! Anyone else picture the Jetsons Spaceport on top of the Public Library as per Hefty and cronies' dream project that didn't work out for them? AND gonna need some art for that bridge! Kinda bare over that way, need culture.. We could get some old furnaces and wrap them together with baling wire as Modern Art stand them on end. Couldn't look stupider than that contraption in the front yard of Washtenaw Community College. Find out who that artist is and commission him/her


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

Why would the railroad pay to have THEIR property turned into a road? I also love how all the whiners on here talk about this being an easy project and shouldnt cost so ,much and blah blah blah, when in reality there are upgrades to the city infrastructure, (we'll be doing more underground utility work on the project ") I know most of the complainers would prefer we just not spend any money on updates to water mains etc. I mean why would you want to actually do something right, when you can do it on the cheap.

average joe

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

I always thought it could be leveled/no bridges with a round-a-bout as well, and make it a stadium & state intersection, but I'm told the round-a-bout wouldn't be able to handle the traffic. But, if you have a bridge you have more places for art...

Ann English

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

Are you asking how often that railroad line is used? It's for freight trains only, and when I worked at a business on State Circle, I could regularly hear train whistles blow as locomotives approached the intersection with Ellsworth Road further to the south.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

i was not to bad today. just woundering how 5pm traffic was? weekends also. i think we will survive for a year.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

People were blocking the intersections on State moreso than usual around 5:30, which made things worse on Packard. If everyone would just chill and not try to wedge their SUV taxi around the corner from Hill onto State things would be smoother.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

McDonald's is making jackhammers? since when?


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

I think they ought to just drive that heavy equipment back and forth across the bridge span. I don't think it would take more than 20 trips for a section to collapse. I thought that was why they had State Street closed - as a landing pad for the sections to come falling down one by one. Every time I drove over the bridge I was always prepared to go sailing into the void.

J. A. Pieper

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

I worried about that also!

peg dash fab

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

What, no complaints about public art? Come on, sourpusses, get on it!


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.



Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

they have over 2 mil in the bank to do something. do not think this will be an art project.