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Posted on Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Stadium bridges project in Ann Arbor ahead of schedule thanks to good weather

By Ryan J. Stanton

The reconstruction of the Stadium bridges in Ann Arbor is coming along smoothly thanks to good weather, project officials said this week.

Michael Nearing, the city's senior project manager, said crews are between three and four weeks ahead of schedule on various project tasks.

"The project is going pretty well," Nearing said. "The whole area appears quite different already. We have the Ann Arbor Railroad bridge completely removed now and they started excavating for the retaining walls, so there are very marked changes that have taken place."


A recent aerial photo showing the newly installed abutments where the old Stadium bridges have been removed.

Courtesy of city of Ann Arbor

As of last week, both 83-year-old bridge spans over State Street and the adjacent railroad tracks have been completely removed, and new bridge abutments are starting to take shape.

Much of the western abutment of the span over State Street has been completed. On the eastern side of the street, the footing and some wall sections have been completed.

Nearing said new steel beams will be set over State Street during the first two days of May with intermittent closures of the street while beams are swung into place.

For the past several months, the target date for reopening East Stadium Boulevard and allowing traffic over the new bridge spans has been Nov. 14.

"At this point in time, I'm still projecting we'll be open to traffic on or before Nov. 14," Nearing said, hesitant to predict the project might be done early.

While the project is ahead of schedule now, Nearing said, keeping that up remains heavily dependent on the weather, and May and August tend to be rainy months.

Another major part of the project is expected to start April 30 and last through mid-July. That's when State Street will be reconstructed from north of Henry Street to north of Rose Avenue.

State Street will close to northbound traffic until July 11 to facilitate construction of sidewalks, storm sewers, fire hydrants and pavement in the vicinity of the bridge area.

Southbound traffic still can use State Street and pedestrians will use the sidewalk on the eastern side of the street. Northbound traffic will be detoured.

Crews already have done some utility relocation along State Street to pave the way for that part of the project to happen.

Project officials estimate 100,000 cubic yards of dirt are being hauled in and out of the Stadium bridges construction site for the project.

A number of retaining walls used to support Stadium Boulevard still need to be constructed. Crews have just started work on the railroad bridge, pouring one footing so far. At least three-quarters of that work remains to be done, according to project officials.

About three-quarters of the underground work is now finished. At the western end near Kipke Drive, a stormwater detention culvert has been built under Stadium Boulevard and new storm sewers and manholes are now connected into the project's drainage system.


Detours are planned along State Street through mid-July. For more details and a larger version of this map, go to

Courtesy of city of Ann Arbor

On the University of Michigan Golf Course, a new headwall and trash screen has replaced an obsolete one where Allen's Creek empties into the storm sewer. And underground, a storm sewer line has been installed.

A 30-inch water main also is being installed to replace part of an obsolete 20-inch water main line used to carry well water from the south to the treatment plant on the north side of town.

In the upcoming weeks, project officials say residents can expect to see the construction of more walls on the east abutment of the bridge over State Street, a detention culvert installed at the east end of the project on Stadium Boulevard, and storm sewer construction along Rose Avenue from White Street to East Park Place with some curb repairs in that area.

In late May or early June, crews plan to start construction of the retaining wall along the southern edge of the U-M field hockey site.

Separately from the Stadium bridges project, major repairs to East Stadium Boulevard are expected to start soon. The project includes replacement of the underground water mains between Packard Road and Brockman Boulevard, and subsequent resurfacing of East Stadium Boulevard from Packard Road to Washtenaw Avenue.

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 email newsletters.



Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Here is food for thought. They are closing that section down on April 30. Going to be fun trying to divert around it. Especially if you need to get downtown. Enjoy the drive.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

Do they HAVE to do EVERY street at once? Things are screwed up as it is around town with traffic, now they're going to be repaving stadium as well? Damn!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

That is why they call it the Orange Barrel Polka.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

After the delays and poor project management at the library, it's good to know somethings can be done on schedule.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Driving AROUND it, Nancy? My son lives RIGHT next to it--last house on White before Stadium. Think about LISTENING to it, LIVING in it!!

David Cahill

Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

It's good news that this project is ahead of schedule due to good weather! Why is the Library Lane parking structure so far behind schedule? As far as I can tell, the weather is the same downtown as it is on Stadium. My guess is that the parking structure construction management firm is the reason. I knew there would be trouble when this firm got the bid, and then selected itself as the principal subcontractor!


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

Have you ever been around the library in the morning when the construction workers come to work? If you are there you can see how few people are working on the project. That is why it is taking so long to build. The contractor (Christman?) is saving A LOT of money by hiring so few workers. And the DDA is too flaccid to do anything about it.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

Won't be soon enough for me. Wonder how much gas we're all using going around this project.


Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

I agree. There really is no simple way to get around it.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

Thanks for the update, Ryan, but wouldn't the headline be more precise to say that the project is still "on schedule" to be completed on or before November 14, 2012? "Ahead of schedule now" is meaningless if it doesn't affect the actual completion date.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 10:22 a.m.

If only the bridges had been eliminated. Nice for bikes and people $20 million saved (Thank Dingell for ramming it through) Open with trees instead of concrete bunker welcome to Ann Arbor. Better traffic flow. Consumed fewer resources for steel and concrete. And yes, inconvenience for Stadium only in the rare instances when there is a train. The train crossing at State St has long been at grade and a minor issue.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Let's just blame civilization. Humans just consume resources without regard. I still sleep well at night.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Taking a break from my sabbatical from to correct the fiction above: The City and the State wanted an at-grade crossing for the reasons stated above. Ann Arbor RR refused to permit it, and the laws regarding RR right-of-ways permitted it to have the veto. So the choice had nothing to do with Dingell. GN&GL


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 10:22 a.m.

I don't think the old bridge over State was 83 years old. I have seen aerial photos of the Stadium from the late 40s or early 50s and there is no bridge over State or the railroad tracks. It also appears that there was no Stadium Blvd. Just a dirt 2 track road.


Sun, Apr 22, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

Michigan Stadium was built in 1927, so it and the bridge are apparently only a year apart in age. Here are some historical photos I don't see the 40s era automobiles, but I think enough of Stadium Blvd is visible to see there is no bridge. Doesn't show much of Stadium Blvd, and the cars seem to be of an earlier era. Opening day w/ 1920s era cars. Similar to previous photo.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

johnnya2 - The photo that I am referring to is not in my possession. It is in a museum downtown and is approx. 3ft.x4ft. Kinda hard to fit on a scanner. And I don't care if you believe me or not. This is about information sharing. It is not a contest. BTW, the dates given on Arborwiki are for the old Broadway bridges so I know they are wrong.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Show these so called pictures or it is just you flapping your gums. Why would I take YOUR word over that of the city or contractors who know all about it?


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

fjord - The aerial photo that I am referring to shows the stadium full of people (big game) with the marching band on the field. The stadium is only one level above ground and the first press box is present. There are cars parked around the stadium that are clearly of late 40s or early 50s vintage and there is no bridge over the AARR tracks. Considering that the Michigan Daily and Arbor Wiki probably got their information from the city government, I'd rather believe my eyes than anything out of Ann Arbor City Hall.l


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 5:41 p.m. ...just to name two sources. Though it should be mentioned that Arborwiki disagrees, saying that one was built in 1928 ... and the other in 1917. Either way, that means the aerial photos you mentioned weren't from the '40s or '50s. I'm guessing they were from the opening of Michigan Stadium (1927) or before.


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

fjord - may i ask from where did you get your information?


Sat, Apr 21, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Both bridges were built in 1928.