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Posted on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 10:29 a.m.

Short-term fix on Ann Arbor's East Stadium bridge scheduled to begin

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council agreed Monday night to take emergency action to address safety concerns with the East Stadium Boulevard bridge over South State Street.

Bridge work is now scheduled to take place Nov. 15-17, city officials announced today.

An engineering firm warned the city last month it's possible - though not likely - that "football sized" concrete could fall from the bridge, injuring anyone below.


The underside of the Stadium bridge where it crosses over State Street has been deemed a potential danger.

Lon Horwedel |

The City Council approved, in a 7-0 vote, spending up to $100,000 to remove five damaged beams and up to $340,000 to have DTE Energy relocate power lines as part of a bridge replacement project.

Northwest Consultants Inc. inspected the bridge Sept. 15 and recommended, as one option, removing the five southernmost beams that are deteriorating.

"They no longer serve their function, they represent a safety concern for traffic on State Street, they require excessive attention from maintenance crews, and if left in place they could tempt someone who doesn’t know better to drive over them," NCI Bridge Project Manager Jon Drummond wrote in his inspection letter. “The advantages to this course of action are improved safety and a reduction in maintenance efforts.”

City officials said due to the critical condition of the beams, they should be removed in November because they could become unstable during freezing weather. They expressed concerns that pieces of concrete could fall onto passing vehicles or pedestrians traveling along South State Street.

South State Street will be closed to traffic while the beam removal work is performed. A detour will be in effect during that time, and the alternate route is noted at

Homayoon Pirooz, manager of the city's project management unit, said after the demolition is complete, a portion of the bridge deck will no longer exist. City officials say a concrete barrier will need to be installed to prevent vehicles and pedestrians from entering the "gap" in the bridge deck on the south side of the bridge.

City officials said the DTE Energy power lines need to be temporarily relocated underground to allow for safe demolition and construction of a new bridge span over the railroad tracks. Once the bridge has been reconstructed, DTE will replace the lines above ground.

Ann Arbor officials laid out plans in August for a $22.1 million reconstruction of the two East Stadium Boulevard bridge spans over South State Street and the nearby railroad tracks.

The city is now seeking state and federal funding to make that project happen, city engineer Michael Nearing told council members Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sat, Mar 6, 2010 : 1:09 a.m.

Marvin, if you don't understand democracy and the concept of government of, by, and for the people, just back off. There are a lot of things that self-important individuals have no business concerning themselves with, and citizen involvement in the workings of their government is one of them. We all appreciate your condescension, but democracy is a very basic concept and difficult to comprehend for the pompous. Unless you fully understand the value of the free exchange of ideas, even when some people may be wrong, please refrain from exercising your freedom of speech. Larry Kestenbaum admitted his mistake and took responsibility, a quality much to rare these days. I'd like to think you could learn from him.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 1:21 p.m.

I'm wondering why the power lines once underground would be placed above ground again. Many utilities now put their lines underground and leave them there. I am also wondering if an alternative to the Stadium bridges has been considered that would allow removal of the bridge and creating alternative routes for traffic.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 7:52 a.m.

I'm impressed A2 has time to deal with such a menial task. truly amazing. I know that A2 is too busy tearing down city trees, building more non-green monstrosities, mismanaging traffic and ruining parking, to be bothered with a minor potential disaster that is Stadium over State. Seriously, when is A2 going to get rid of such poor street management? It's a disgrace!

Larry Kestenbaum

Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 7:37 a.m.

But if you're asking the community to come up with millions of tax dollars to build something, your project has to be able to withstand questions and comments by "lay people". By condescendingly telling everyone to "back off", you're not doing this project any favors. Let's say you're in the market for a refrigerator, and you notice that Model A costs twice as much as Model B. The salesman says: "You can't have Model B, but I'm not going to tell you why. I appreciate your interest, but it is very technical and difficult to comprehend the multiple facets of a product like this. You have to buy the more expensive one, and you have no business concerning yourself about it." So you would just go ahead and meekly lay out the money for Model A?

Marvin Face

Wed, Oct 21, 2009 : 11:34 p.m.

This is the problem with "laypeople" trying to interject in things they have no business being involved in. Please. If you don't understand countour lines, just back off. There are a lot of things that citizens have no business concerning themselves with and this is one of them. We all appreciate your interest, but it is very technical and difficult to comprehend the multiple facets of a project like this. Unless you fully understand it, please refrain from commenting.. (I certainly doubt this will occur)


Wed, Oct 21, 2009 : 8:04 a.m.

Wow! I can totally understand how Larry K. came to the conclusion he did. The elevations are TOTALLY misleading. His interpretation is correct, i.e. Stadium is shown, via the convention of dashed lines, going UNDERground. I know this issue has been settled already, but Larry K's misunderstanding is entirely understandable. It is a terrible elevation to indicate what is going on with this proposal. I'm convinced that he did not intend to misrepresent anything. While we all know now that Stadium will continue to go OVER via a reconstructed bridge, I'm a bit surprised that people would come down so hard on this.

Larry Kestenbaum

Wed, Oct 21, 2009 : 6:20 a.m.

Okay, everybody, I WAS WRONG. I misread the conceptual plan. Stadium goves OVER state, not under it. Honestly now, though, when you look at this plan -- -- it is not at all obvious that State goes under Stadium. At the intersection, you can see State Street, while Stadium is dashed lines. Dashed lines are widely used to indicate features that are behind other features, such as tunnels. Indeed, the University's tunnel under Stadium is indicated with dashed lines. There is NO notation on the dashed lines across State Street that this is supposed to represent a bridge rather than an underpass. Moreover, the title of the drawing is "East Stadium Bridges Replacement Project." Who would have thought that a "bridges replacement project" plan would not show the actual bridges? The elevation numbers are tiny and handwritten, and you're right, I didn't study them. The up/down notation on the stairs I was looking at were ambiguous, with double headed arrows. I see now there are other stairways which are more clearly labeled, such as the one on the north side of Stadium near State. When I saw this plan, my first reaction was incredulity. But then I thought I understood. Putting a busy road UNDER a railroad is a standard solution when they cross, both around Michigan and elsewhere. The reason is that the railroad needs much more clearance than the road does. I figured that a high enough bridge to clear the railroad would be so high that the grade leading to it would be too steep. I posted this issue earlier, and no one came along to say, "No, you idiot, you're misreading the plan." So I wrote another comment about it. I wasn't "spreading lies" about the project, rather, it was my honest mistake. I have been wrong before, and I'll probably be wrong again. I do not claim to be infallible.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Oct 21, 2009 : 1:53 a.m.

The city's "news" Web page now features an item about community meetings taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 28 and Tuesday, Dec. 1 regarding the replacement project preliminary design.

A 2 Fan NOT!!!

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 10:38 p.m.

Lets build another roundabout!!!


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 10:24 p.m.

from the above post it seems stupid to put stadium under state. isn't that below the flood plane? I don't need a fancy bridge, just a plain ol'bridge that won't fall down.


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 10:04 p.m.

Why does everything we do in this town have to be over analyzed, reconsidered, redrawn, delayed, tabled, and debated to death? The bridge needs to be seriously repaired... so just fix it already!

Marvin Face

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 9:02 p.m.

Larry, you are so incredibly wrong on this. I am extremely disappointed that an elected official is spreading lies about this project. Not once but twice! Stadium will absolutely go over the railroad and State. Always has, always will.. If you are unsure, please do some checking before posting and getting everyone here in a lather. The drawings are quite clear and not even open for interpretation. This is incredibly irresponsible of you.. Your opinions from here on out are suspect at best.

Larry Kestenbaum

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 9:01 p.m.

Okay, I was wrong. Many apologies.

Tom Teague

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 8:32 p.m.

The grant application says that this is the option selected: "Maintain Stadium Boulevard with bridges over both the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks and State Street. (Current configuration)."

Larry Kestenbaum

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 8:31 p.m.

The Plan View (part B) shows State Street bridging over Stadium, casting a shadow on Stadium. That being said, I see that the elevations do show a different picture. So, perhaps I am wrong about this.


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 8:28 p.m.

No, Foobar is right. Zoom in on the plan viws that Mr. K cites. The plan views clearly show Stadium increasing in elevation as the road approches the RR bridge and State. The grading slopes down away from Stadium towards the RR bridge and State, and the stairs going down to State Street have the down arrow labeled. The plans are just showing the approaches to the bridge and the retaining walls, the bridges are sketched lightly over the RR line and State. You would think that something as major as what Mr. K states would have been noticed earlier.

Duane Collicott

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 8:18 p.m.

Umm, Mr. Foobar, Larry's right. Check this document: It has Stadium going underneath State. That is, unless the drawing is from the perspective of underneath the project.


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 6:05 p.m.

Umm. Mr Kestenbaum, with all due respect, you are totally wrong. The rebuilt Stadium will go OVER the tracks and State, not under. Look at A Elevation South, for example. That shows that you are misintepreting how to read the birds-eye views.

Jody Durkacs

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 5:19 p.m.

Wow, I had no idea they were going to make Stadium go under State. That seems excessive. Apparently it *is* worth the 20 mil to the council to solve the clearance issue on state. I disagree. I read the claiming that just fixing one bridge and the no-bridge options are untenable and I am starting to think they need to get a second opinion on this. Pirooz seems to only believe that the most expensive option is viable and it makes me suspicious. If my doctor told me I had to get million dollar surgery, I would surely get a second opinion.

Larry Kestenbaum

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 4:02 p.m.

The overall project is here: The link at the bottom to "conceptual plans" takes you here: Look at the plan views, A, B, and C.


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 2:47 p.m.

Mr. Kestenbaum: Your information is incredible if true. Can you please cite your source on that? The way this article is written, and everything I've heard so far, has indicated they just plan to rebuild the two bridges. Any plan to reverse the current situation (putting Stadium under State St. and the RR track) would be insane. Ignoring the horrendous costs and time to rebuild completely, I could see a Stadium underpass being completely flooded every time a heavy rain storm moves through.

Larry Kestenbaum

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 2:33 p.m.

To repeat myself yet again.... Wait until you see the $22 million mega-project the city has in mind for East Stadium. The city's elaborate plans call for putting East Stadium UNDER the railroad and State Street, replacing the current embankment with a deep hole (think of how much earth moving that would involve). The whole project would take about three years to complete, during which time we will have to live without Stadium and State Street. Is this really necessary? The railroad bridge is not falling down, and probably could last quite a few more years. The defective span over State Street could easily be replaced right now, without any massive earth moving. And East Stadium's pavement should be redone. The only problem this wouldnt solve is the low clearances over the railroad and State Street. But we have lived with the existing clearances for decades. Is it worth some $20 million, right now, just for that? Maybe there will be federal money for this. But if there isn't, it would be an outrage to spend $22 million in scarce local dollars to tear out and rebuild that whole area, when all we really need is one little bridge.


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 10:09 a.m.

Can someone elaborate why DTE prefers to have the power lines above ground rather than underground? Seems to me, once they're underground it'd make sense to just leave them there. Also, are there any options that involve replacing just the missing span of bridge and not the whole bridge?


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 9:44 a.m.

Can't believe I am agreeing with Steve Hendel on anything but closing the bridge would be crazy. Ah, then again, there will be so many absolutely ticked off people that maybe the overall project would get completed sooner. Again, get rid of the bridges altogether and save big bucks.

Steve Hendel

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 8:59 a.m.

Shut down the bridge completely on game days? Traffic coming from the east (Washtenaw) will get to the

Phil Dokas

Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 8:19 a.m.

I'd love to see a map of what the changes will look like!


Tue, Oct 20, 2009 : 7:36 a.m.

This bridge definitely needs some tender loving care. My question is why can't the U of M help with the cost of repairing or rebuilding the bridge -- indeed, many folks out of towners cross this bridge for many events at the football stadium and other sports event in that location. Thanks, Carole