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Posted on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Stadium bridges project to begin Nov. 28 and include radiant-heat staircases

By Ryan J. Stanton

The end of the University of Michigan football season will mean the start of reconstruction of the East Stadium Boulevard bridges in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor officials just released the latest schedule for the $22.8 million project, and it shows the work beginning after the Ohio State game at the end of November.

Stadium Boulevard will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic starting Nov. 28 through most of 2012.


The East Stadium Boulevard bridges over South State Street and the nearby railroad tracks will be completely reconstructed starting next month.

Ryan J. Stanton |

South State Street also will be closed Nov. 28 through Dec. 13 this year in the vicinity of the project. That's when crews will demolish the bridge span there and install needed storm and sanitary sewers that will be utilized in subsequent phases of the project.

The city has created a website with up-to-date project information, including construction schedule progress, impending traffic pattern changes, detour maps, project contact information, meeting notices, brochures, and project photos.

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

Stadium will be reconstructed from Kipke Drive to South Industrial Highway and State will be reconstructed from Henry Street to Rose Avenue.

City officials pointed out 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 and improved pedestrian access to Stadium via new staircases at State.

The upgrades at Rose White Park, as well as landscaping and site restoration, are expected to happen between summer and fall 2012.

The current schedule calls for reopening Stadium to traffic in December 2012. Project completion and final restoration is expected by May 30, 2013.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously last week in favor of an agreement between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the city for the project.

MDOT received the construction bids for the project last month and awarded the main contract to Dan's Excavating Inc. for $13.9 million, the lowest of five bids. The other four bids ranged from $14.3 million to $16.5 million. The engineer's estimate was $18.1 million.

Homayoon Pirooz, head of the city's project management unit, said Dan's Excavating has done good work on some of the city's past major construction projects.

Pirooz said the current estimate for the total project cost — including all prior expenses, but excluding contingencies for the future construction — is $22.8 million. The city-state agreement will include an amount determined by MDOT for construction contingencies that will be shared 80-20 by the state and city.

The city received a $13.9 million federal grant for the project, plus another $2.9 million in grant funding from the state.

Mayor John Hieftje said in hindsight he's happy to say the city was right to continue on the path of seeking state and federal funding for the Stadium bridges project last year, even though some residents were calling for using city funds to rebuild the bridges earlier.

"It's very nice to look back now and know we made the right decision," he said. "And it's great to see the project going forward, and wonderful to have a start date right in front of us."

Michael Nearing, city engineer and senior project manager, gave an update on the Stadium bridges project at last week's City Council meeting. He talked about the two staircases that will help pedestrians navigate between State and Stadium — one on the northwest corner of the bridge over State, adjacent to the U-M field hockey area, and one at the southeast corner.

"So we'll have two staircases. They're pretty simple really," he said. "They're several flights of stairs, rising up from State Street up to Stadium, on both quadrants. We have bike channels in them so, for example, you could walk your bike up the stairs and get up to Stadium, or you could walk your bike down from Stadium to State Street."


Mayor John Hieftje said in hindsight he's happy to say the city was right to continue on the path of seeking state and federal funding for the Stadium bridges.

Ryan J. Stanton |

He said there will be some minor architectural details put into the walls so they won't appear as simply large slabs of concrete. He added the city's staff is working with the Public Art Commission about the possibility of a public art installation as part of the bridge project.

Nearing also talked about a radiant heat — or a passive snow-melting system — that is being built into the staircases. He said it'll act basically like an electric blanket.

"That will be cast into the concrete," he said. "There'll be sensors in the staircases that will measure both the temperature and the precipitation/humidity, so they will automatically turn on when the weather gets to be a certain temperature. And if there's, for example, precipitation out there, it'll melt the snow and won't require shoveling."

That impressed council members.

"I love the idea of radiant heating. I think it's brilliant. I'm sure many of us would like to see that in front of our houses," said Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward.

As part of the project's construction, the city will reconstruct a portion of State beginning May 3, 2012. City officials expect the work on State to be completed by July 11, 2012.

During the work on State, the city will maintain one lane of southbound traffic and detour northbound traffic along Packard to Stadium to South Industrial Highway to Stimpson back to State. Pirooz said the city will be closely monitoring traffic along the detour routes.

"Project staff will be ready to make adjustments as needed in order to optimize the performance of the detour route," he told council members. "We expect traffic to adapt to the detour routes and normalize after a few weeks. This is common on these types of projects."

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.


Lets Get Real

Wed, Oct 26, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

The Mayor says "we did the right thing"? Put people at safety risk for how many years, compromised traffic for how many years, and yes! let's start pouring concrete in the winter compromising its integrity. I can't wait to try get to the basketball games - for which I just bought season tickets. Yippee! This project is so miserably late - the ugly art got installed before we have a safe bridge to cross. And oh yes! please! let's get the "public art" committee involved for another piece of public fart.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

What is the life sapn of the radiant heat? My bet is that it is about 1% of the life span of the stairways. I won't belong before the stairways will only be open April through October. Also how does the ADA apply when you have a stairway that will not accomodate the handicap? Just a thought.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

I sure as hell wouldn't want to pay for "heated stairs".


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Then pay for someone to go and shovel the snow. Where do we send the bill? No offense but some people can not see the forest through the trees.

Buster W.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

"Mayor John Hieftje said in hindsight he's happy to say the city was right to continue on the path of seeking state and federal funding for the Stadium bridges project last year..." Yeah, it's always good try and ask someone pay for it!


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

Art Installation?? I think when it's built and done, they should bring back the Troll, Clarence, to stay.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

I agree!

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

The heated stairs are a great idea. Concrete and steel stairs can be incredibly slippery, and it's a long way down. We spend so many millions on car drivers in this town. It's about time more was spent to support the taxpaying pedestrians and cyclists.

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

I hope they'll be transferring the graffiti from the old bridge to the new.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

hmmm..if the downtown property owners are responsible for removal of graffiti to their buildings, how does this work? The bridge will be 'owned' by the city [?], state [?] or fed gov. [?] and who will pay to clean it up?


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

"Mayor John Hieftje said in hindsight he's happy to say the city was right to continue on the path of seeking state and federal funding " "It's very nice to look back now and know we made the right decision," he said. I would suspect the Mayor would think it nice! Since hindsite has not been a good thing with the majority of city hall decisions!

Deborah Murray

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

It's nice to see that provisions are being made for pedestrians and bicyclists, but I don't see that any consideration has been given to people who use scooters, wheelchairs etc. Was the CIL or Commission on Disability Issues consulted at all during the planning? As a former Chair of the Commission I already know the anser to that question--NO!

Ann Arbor Bridges Project

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

Glad to see so many are interested in the project. Be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for the most updated information on the project and more. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

so this bridge really needs a FB page and twitter account? Will anyone actually read my tweet if I complain about the 20 or so &quot;workers&quot; standing around doing nothing like any other road project? Gimme a break...all this 'social media' activity does is ensure another adminstrative paycheck. I say let's hire back a tech savvy cop and kill 2 birds with one stone.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Can you please make the bridge attractive like the Broadway bridges and not ugly like the Huron Parkway one?


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

I think we should just heat the whole city and do away with winter completely.

Mike S

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

:^) The first city under a dome! Got the winter blues and don't have the cash for Hawaii? Come to Ann Arbor where "Tree City" is green all year 'round.™ But please brake for jet-packs crossing and don't leave your flying car idling.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

Thank you, finally. However, this dragged on for far too long. When a section of bridge has to be demolished and trolls move in beneath it, you know you waited too long.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 10:38 a.m.

Seems like the project will take a long time, hope it is worth it. How are the stairs powered? Electricity? Solar? Natural gas? What is the expected annual operating cost of the stairs?


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

They are operated by wallett.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 4:37 a.m.

23 million dollars? All you can say is you can't wait? Nobody finds this amount to be over the top ridiculous? Have you seen some of the other bridges in other communities across the united states that have been built for 23 million dollars and you are not asking yourself, where is this mayor and city council coming from? Mars? Unbelievable!


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:54 a.m.

RE: &quot;They're several flights of stairs, rising up from State Street up to Stadium, on both quadrants. We have bike channels in them so, for example, you could walk your bike up the stairs and get up to Stadium, or you could walk your bike down from Stadium to State Street.&quot; I'm in my sixties and ride my bike often in that vicinity, year 'round. I would prefer they install escalators. Heated escalators, please. With brandy dispensers. ;-) If they install these few modest amenities, I promise to start a campaign to name the new Luxury Bridge, The Ri¢k $nyder Bridge To Prosperity. ;-) I too am glad to have a firm starting date - even more glad to have any kind of completion date. ;-) Seriously: congrats to our city government - which showed unbelievable restraint under the rain of criticism from what our mayor secretly refers to as: Our Mad Hatter Element.

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

&quot;With brandy dispensers&quot; Don't be absurd. That's what the St. Bernards are for. You can't survive a winter here without one. I suggest the extra size barrel.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

The street people will love the heaters, now all that is needed is brass plaques on the steps: Hieftje Henie Heater


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

The only thing the &quot;street people&quot; could heat would be their butts since it will be sensors in the concrete.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

Imagine - roads and bridges getting repaired and rebuilt. Needed infrastructure repairs that also employ people. What a democratic job principle. Imagine it being replicated on other failing roads, bridges, transit systems, water and sewer systems, energy systems and voila you have an Obama Jobs Plan. But, if we wait to repair these failing systems much longer we will start to look like a third world country instead of the USA. But lets save our way into depression instead as the republicans want, just like Hoover did.

Michael Christie

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

The multiplier on roads and bridges is a 1:1 ratio at best, so for every job created 1 is saved. Put that same money in the public sector and at minimum you will get 1:2 which is job growth.

Kara Marie

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

Honestly the radiant heating is a little overboard. For a house, fine, a staircase outdoors that probably no one will use, nah. But I am VERY happy that bridge is getting fixed finally. I am sick of driving across that crappy bridge everyday and being cut off by people who do not like to lane over till the VERY last second possible.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

of course, I mean the right lane when approaching from the west side, i.e. the stadium side.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

for the record, the right lane is much smoother.

Michael Christie

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

I love the new bridge, albeit way overboard, and the heated stairs will make a nice place for people to camp out because Liberty Plaza isn't heated. It will be tough to walk down them with people laying on them. Well unless you're in one of the tents that's made it a residence.

Jon Saalberg

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

I only hope that the people responsible for the West Park debacle are not involved in this project.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

Heated stairs? I can't wait to see the folks slumbering there.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

Interesting thought on the heated stairs. Hopefully it will reduce the chances of slip and fall accidents during winter nights while saving us money from having to pay someone overtime to maintain the stairs.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

Yea, wait until you see the electric bill for that handy little feature. Just think how much one little heat tape to keep a pipe from freezing costs, now think concrete and flights of stairs. But hey its Ann Arbor where they will spend tons of money on frivolous stuff but cut important things. Good luck.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

Holland, MI has used a similar system on it's sidewalks throughout the downtown for a number of years with great success both with respect to safety for pedestrians and effective snow and ice control.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

@DBH: That is correct. Having snow melt and re-freeze causes freeze-thaw cycle that results in slipery ice formations.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 1 a.m.

The heat will have to be substantial to keep the snow or ice melted or evaporated. Otherwise, it will turn a hazardous, snow-covered trip up or down the steps into an even more dangerous one on ice-covered steps.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

What a thoughtful comment! A rarity on these pages.

Catherine Lomax Martin

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

I agree that it will be a pain having to detour while it is being rebuilt, but it will be worth it in the end. As long as I can remember this bridge was always having problems. I seem to remember when I was a child in the 70's that the bridge was closed for a while for repair after a truck got stuck under it.

Buster W.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

70's??? That photo looks like early 60's.

Catherine Lomax Martin

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

Ha Ha! The Ann Arbor Bridges project Face Book page has a photo of that truck! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : midnight

Sounds great! Pedestrian bridges are great. Let's try some on Washtenaw and Huron Parkway and Jackson and Maple!

Urban Sombrero

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

It's about time! I'm glad to have a firm start date. I'm going to have to re-route my commute to and from work, but it'll be worth it in the end. I can't wait to see the finished product.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

I see nothing in the article or plans that includes repaving Stadium from Main or for that matter even S.Seventh. Is this a different project? Because that entire stretch of road is insulting let alone unsafe and just a plain buzzkill.

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

I'd hope that you aren't driving over that stretch every day with a buzz to kill..........


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

It's a separate project. They've been doing Stadium in stages over several years. Originally the stretch from Main to the bridges was part of this project, but they separated it out before they applied for grants (probably to make the grant project cleaner).


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:39 p.m.

&quot;I love the idea of radiant heating. I think it's brilliant. I'm sure many of us would like to see that in front of our houses,&quot; Now we need to pass that idling car law to make up for the energy used by this Rube Goldbergian contraption.

Rob T

Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

I don't want to accuse you of being a rube, but it doesn't sound that much like a Rube Goldberg machine to me, unless it's powered by a hamster in a wheel that pulls a string to light a match to turn on the gas burner which slides on a roller skate down a ramp to heat the stairs. If the stairs do require city maintenance, radiant heat might be more cost-effective than having a human shovel it--I'd be curious to know. The city can also buy power in the off-hours to store heat and then cut out the heaters during peak demand.

Todd DeLand

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

How long is the construction work guaranteed? Seems like roads fall apart quicker than they used to.

John McHugh

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

Radiant heat for the for the rapist can stay worm in the colder months. I know it will help keep the steps melted, but...


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

Some people's brain got overheated at some point ....

Todd DeLand

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

I agree the heat is a bit excessive


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

What are you talking about?