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Posted on Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

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

By Ryan J. Stanton

The $22.8 million project to demolish and reconstruct the 83-year-old Stadium bridge spans in Ann Arbor starts on Monday — along with related road closures and traffic detours that in some cases will last a full year.

But no pain, no gain, right?

City officials say when the project is done, city residents can expect a project similar in quality and with features similar to the Broadway bridges reconstructed in 2003 and 2004. That includes more than just improvements for cars, but also for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Here's a quick recap of what anyone who lives in or travels to Ann Arbor needs to know:

1. The main work on the Stadium bridges project involves removal and replacement of the existing spans over State Street and the nearby Ann Arbor Railroad tracks, staircase construction at State Street, pedestrian tunnel extensions, installation of retaining walls, replacement of storm sewer and water main, and enhancements to Rose White Park.

2. State Street will be closed to traffic starting Monday through Dec. 13 in the vicinity of the project. That's when crews will demolish the bridge spans and install storm and sanitary sewers. Check out for detour maps and other project info.

3. East Stadium Boulevard will be closed from Monday through most of 2012. The project schedule says Stadium will reopen to traffic Nov. 14, 2012, but city officials have said it might not be until December 2012. Either way, that means a major east-west thoroughfare will be out of service for about a year, including through the University of Michigan football and basketball seasons next year. The bridges are located less than a quarter mile from U-M's 101,701-seat football stadium and the 15,000-seat Crisler Arena.


Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje stands by as U.S. Rep. John Dingell speaks last week at a press conference at the site of the Stadium bridges.

Ryan J. Stanton |

4. With detours in effect, expect some trips to take a little longer and expect more traffic than usual on South Industrial Highway, Eisenhower Parkway, Main Street, Packard Street, and other streets like Hoover, Granger and Park Place that will be used as alternate routes. Again, for official detour maps, go to the project website.

5. Stadium will be reconstructed from Kipke Drive to South Industrial, and State Street will be reconstructed from Henry Street to Rose Avenue. Northbound traffic on State Street will be detoured from April 30 through July 11, 2012, while southbound traffic will be maintained.

6. Upgrades at Rose White Park, as well as landscaping and site restoration, are expected to happen partway through 2012.

7. The project includes improved sight distances, the addition of on-street bike lanes, sidewalks on both sides of the road, improved street lighting, greater vertical and horizontal clearances for both bridge spans, construction of a sidewalk on the west side of State Street and improved pedestrian access to Stadium via new staircases at State.

8. The project completion date is May 30, 2013.

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.


Ann English

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

I figure that there is no intersection of Stadium Boulevard with the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks because of the hospitals' proximity to that area; ambulances should not be hindered from reaching hospitals quickly by trains crossing their paths. That was my own conclusion when three houses on the east side of Dixboro Road were demolished and removed to create space for the current high Dixboro Road bridge over the Huron River; St. Joseph's Hospital is very near the intersection of Dixboro Road and E. Huron River Drive. The older, lower bridge and the railroad tracks intersect, and that track is for both freight and passenger trains, both of which would hinder any ambulance on Dixboro en route to the hospital.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

You know after one of the last major earthquakes in California, where several spaghetti bowl like interchanges and double decker freeways collasped they gave the guy in charge of the project insentives to get the job done early (as in a bonus he could pay out to the crew, he got millions in bonuses), he did so without cutting corners (other than maybe red tape) or safety or structual engineering. The main thing he did get was permission to work beyond the normal work day, I think he ran three shifts. Granted he was doing a lot more roadway and not right in someones backyard. BUT it does seem as though a year to build a fairly "small" bridge is excessively long. They built the Empire State Building in less than 14 months. It took 3 years to build the Mackinac Bridge and 4 for the Golden Gate Bridge. (way more than 4 times the length of the proposed Stadium Bridge) Even the I-35W Mississippi River bridge that collasped a few years ago was also rebuilt in about a year. Why does it take a year to build a short bridge in Ann Arbor?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

Yeah, I saw that, too, treetown. I believe that the film was taken on Super-8 by the same photographer who took the pics used in the book linked above. GN&GL


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

There is also a great documentary on the "Mighty Mac" project. I remember seeing it about 10-15 years ago on PBS.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

@bunny, There was a GREAT book published soon after the bridge's construction and that continues to be published today that is a picture history (hundreds of 'em) with rather detailed descriptions of the construction of the bridge. From that book seems clear that cold was not an issue--clearly lots of work being done in some very cold temps. It was when the straits froze over that boats carrying men and material were no longer able to get out to the bridge that construction stopped. <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;source=gbs_book_other_versions</a> I'm pretty certain the book can still be bought in stores in the straits area. AADL and others might have it, too. On the main subject, I understand that O/T, etc.... were built into the cost of the I35 bridge construction and the Nimitz Freeway reconstruction. My point was that, for $22 million, we were getting a project that was 8-5, five days a week. If we wanted the bridge done more quickly, we needed to be prepared to pay more for it. If you recall. the Broadway bridges took nearly twice as long, but that was because, due to emergency requirements, eastbound traffic across the bridges needed to be maintained throughout the project. So, they rebuilt half of the bridge while traffic continued on the older half (one way eastbound) and then shifted traffic to the new half while work moved on to the unfinished half. I guess something like this might have been possible here, but at what expense? And also, lacking the emergency requirement, was it worth the pain to drag the project out for twice the time in order to keep some modicum of traffic going over the bridge? Finally, was this at all feasible from an engineering perspective. Frankly, I don't know the answer to any of the above. But I am amazed (though I ought not be) at the number of people who are complaining that this bridge is getting fixed. GN&amp;GL


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

ed, maybe the combo of wind/ice in the winter was too much of a working hazzard, the wind doesn't effect you when you are in your car (unless you are speeding in a Yugo, then Yogo over the side of the bridge). What worker would want to work that project Dec-Mar, you'd probably have frost-bite issues with most of your crew. Also, maybe in the winter, if men fell into the water the rescue operations would be severly hampered. So really, not working those months on a project like that makes sense. the price for the overtime on the other two projects was factored into the budget. The Nimitz project came in UNDER budget even with overtime because they got it done in several fewer months than anticipated, even with paying out bonuses for getting it done in less time it still cost less than budgeted. I never meant for it to seem I wanted it done faster at greater expense. Merely saying that (within the amount set aside for the project) it seems like over a year for completion for a project of this size is rather long. we differ on your last part, I wanted the bridge replaced. ...and I hope there is not &quot;public art&quot; percentage attached anywhere to it.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Great questions. I'd niggle you on the Mack Bridge--took 4 construction seasons--but then there was no work being done on it from December to March. Had to shut it down when ice flows in the straits shut down boat traffic (which begs the question: wonder when the last time was that the straits were closed due to ice. Happened all three years of the bridge's construction. But that's a different topic, isn't it?). My guess: It could have been done more quickly but would have been much more expensive. Working on a bridge 24/7 as happened on the I-35 Bridge and as happened with the Nimitz Freeway collapse in Oakland means three work crews, not one, plus a lot of overtime. If that is the case, how much more money should have been spent to fix the bridge. My gripe is that they are building a bridge at all. It should have been an at-grade crossing of both the RR and of State Street. Would have been MUCH cheaper and much more quickly done. But it is my understanding that the Ann Arbor RR had the veto power over such a plan, and did so citing safety issues. If so, that's pure nonsense, given the speed of the trains as they move through town and given the number of at grade crossings in the City of A2, especially downtown. GN&amp;GL

Silly Sally

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

The idea is not to build four score and three year old monuments to old politicians, the idea is to have a working infrastructure such as bridges that are repaired or rebuilt while people use them, at an economical cost. While the one side was closed, it could have been rebuilt. It could have had a sidewalk, or bike lane, too, as they do not need to support much weight. Then repeat the process for the north side. It could have been built a bit higher, too. While not as nice as theis current project, it would be affordable, and quick. Closing down Stadium for a year, and costing taxpayers 23 million, so much that they had to run to Uncle Sam is folly. This rudderless mayor can't even have traffic flow on 5th Street of Division, it has been disrupted by his BIG DIG for years it seems now. BIG DIG, the new City Hall The Shaft, closed Stadium bridge, and a smiling old Congressman, who really believes that it is HIS money.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

Ghost is correct, the feds often fund traffic projects. However with this, one I think the city should have received a bit of a spanking for letting this bridge go into disrepair for so long without fixing it earlier while proceeding with such gargantuan spending projects like the uber aesthetic city hall and the under ground library parking lot. When it gets to the point concrete is falling and one lane has to be closed down to prevent total collapse, a federal bailout should perhaps be awarded to a community that acts in a timely manner rather than one that spends so much money so cavalierly.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Is the dog barking at the sun, or it's shadow?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

And the Chinese ought thank us for a stable market in which to invest, and for the world's largest economy in which they can sell the stuff they make. And all of this is beside the point. If we don't want to borrow from the Chinese to pay for all of this stuff, we need to raise taxes. Or there is a third option: start cutting, and cutting drastically, government spending. The so-called &quot;supercommittee&quot; could not come to agreement about how to reduce the debt by $1.5 Trillion over the next ten years at a time we a running a $1.5 Trillion deficit every year (and, for the record, the deficits under Obama have done DOWN when compared to the last Bush deficit). And therein lies the conundrum. We want what we want but don't want to pay for it, no matter which level of government pays for it. And hence my challenge to Sally. If she does not want federal funding, fine. Then where to find the money? What to cut? Which taxes to raise? Lacking answers to those questions, this is, as I said above, akin to the dog barking at the sun when it comes up every morning. GN&amp;GL


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

She does have the point. We should put a thank you note on the bridge to the Chineese people for the loan to make this happen.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

Oh, and one last thing: Whether or not the Road Commission does a good job with its money is not the issue. And whether or not the bridge could have been done more cheaply is not the issue. No matter what alternative was chosen, the Road Commission does not have the money in its budget to fund the construction of the Stadium Bridges. Which leads me back to my original point: If you don't like the SOURCE of the money--if you are going to complain again and again and again as you have that the federal government is paying for this project--then you need to offer an alternative to paying for road construction and road repair projects. GN&amp;GL

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

@Silly: 1) I was speaking of an alternative to funding the bridges and other road construction. 2) As for what was possible with the old structure: can you please tell me where you got your engineering degree and what your inspections of the old structure revealed? 3) As for cost, can you please give a detailed, dollar-for-dollar analysis of the cost savings you are certain is there. I mean, if you're going to make an objective statement that the old bridge could have been repaired for less, you must have the facts to back up such a statement. Right? Yeah, right. GN&amp;GL

Silly Sally

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

@Ghost, $24 million is too much and an alternative WAS suggested that would greatly reduce the price. The Washtenaw Cty Road Com does a lot for their 29 million, and to place a similar amount into one bridge proves my point that this bridge is too costly. My alternatives, repeated once again: Keep the old spans instead of tearing everything down to widen it. A sidewalk for the south side can still by added (similar to Liberty over I-94), there is one on the north side already. Just replacing the steel and then adding a new road on top of it will not cost 24 million. It is probably closer to half that amount. We do not need to have the federal government borrow from the Chinese so we can have a foot path to the top or something else., especially when this process is repeated around the nation time after time. Locals do not watch federal money closely as they watch their own. This money never should have left Washtenaw County in the first place. DIngell is part of the problem, not the solution

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

@Silly, The city of Ann Arbor had $184 million in revenues in 2010. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Which $24 million would you cut to pay for this bridge? As I've written before in reply to your posts, our nation's road system is underwritten by federal money. Your reply is that the county does better work. Whether or not that is true is beside the point. The entire County Road Commission for 2012 is $29.9 million. <a href=""></a> It cannot fix the bridge. Don't like getting federal $ for local road repair projects? Fine. There are good reasons for so doing. But then suggest an alternative. And then do something to make that alternative happen. In the meantime, complaining about federal $ being necessary to fix local roads is a bit like barking at the sun when it rises every day. It makes the dog feel better (one would hope), but the sun will still rise tomorrow. Good Night and Good Luck


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

what's in a name?


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 7 p.m.

very helpful website and maps on the link you provided.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

Can they PLEASE schedule construction of a new road on Carpenter between Washtenaw and Packard? PLEASE?! Even if it takes them two years, it'll be worth it!

sun runner

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

That road was completely rebuilt from the base up in '98/'99 (I wish I could remember exactly). I lived at Geddes and Dixboro at the time so I frequently traveled down Carpenter. I remember when the project was finally completed...oh, glorious stretch of roadway! Now? Every time I have to go to that side of town I am appalled by the bumpity-bump of a road that seems to have completely disintegrated in just over a decade.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

Why? I think they just did. Won't happen. Gotta live with that one.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Thoroughfare thru Granger? O my are you folks asking for trouble. This is a residential neighborhood with a dozen or more children inside its boundaries. I would be screaming to close this street down and only locals can access this area. The other streets should be fine. Can't wait to watch these fireworks. Good luck Ann Arbor with that one.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

Should see our street. We are getting speed bumps and cameras. People wiz thru ours. And yes, close streets that have children. Otherwise, do the time for killing a child. I'll make sure that childs photo is posted on your wall.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

The only cure for the rocket-like speeds on granger (posted speed: 25mph) might be to allow parking both sides thereof.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

So they should close ALL the detours if children live on those streets...WOW

5c0++ H4d13y

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

Who knew that grassy strip was a park? Only in A2.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

It is in the wrong spot. Rose-White Park is at the intersection of Rose and White (surprise). The map has it marked at the intersection of Henry St. and Stadium.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

You are finally correct (the marker is in the wrong place). The park in question is in the triangle formed by rose/white/e.stadium (play structure) and continues diagonally across the white/rose intersection (swing set).

5c0++ H4d13y

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

Unless google maps has the marker in the wrong spot it looks like little more than a grass triangle. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Sure. &quot;Only in Ann Arbor&quot; are children's play structures included in parks. Guess you were too busy with gratuitous slams to bother with the facts.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

I think that park is the one on the north side of the road just east of the bridges near White street.

Mark Wilson

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

As musicnerdsftw noted, the current capacity of the football stadium is 109,901. It hasn't been the 101,701 mentioned in this article for 20 years. Here's the history of the stadium's capacity: 72,000 (1927) 85,752 (1928–1948) 97,239 (1949–1954) 101,001 (1955–1972) 101,701 (1973–1991) 102,501 (1992–1997) 107,501 (1998–2007) 106,201 (2008–2009) 109,901 (2010–present)


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

Michigan Stadium official capacity is 109,901


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

they're invited to stay away

Ann Arbor Bridges

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

You forgot #9 Ryan! Follow the project as it happens and impacts by following us on Facebook at www. arbor bridges and on Twitter at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Build baby build!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

all it means is traffic will be screwed up for about a year or so.good luck Ann Arbor.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

Oh, and that we'll have a new safe bridge when it's through. Can't seem to please some people.

Urban Sombrero

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

When isn't traffic in Ann Arbor screwed up? lol The sad thing is, by the time we all finally get used to the detours, they'll reopen the bridge.

Steve Hendel

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

About time! I guess it's to be expected, but what actual purpose is served by giving our 'Congressman for life' a boost up in his next campaign by letting him take credit for doing his job?


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Because he did his job? OK, yeah, let's not mention that the guy, who is 85, was more effective than our local City officials who are half his age in getting this project funded finally. Yeah, let's not appreciate that.