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Blue Bridge

Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Bridge

   


Blue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: 2006-2014
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Converted To Pedestrian Walk) Over Grand River
Location
Grand Rapids: Kent County, Michigan
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1892 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2013
Main Span Length
125 Feet (38.1 Meters)
Structure Length
575 Feet (172.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
24 Feet (7.3 Meters)
Spans
4 Main Span(s) and 1 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View The ArtPrize Official Website

About This Bridge

Grand Rapids Railroad Bridge FireworksThis bridge is among the longest truss bridges in Michigan, and it consists of four truss spans and a deck plate girder approach at the west end. There are extremely few multi-span metal truss bridges in Michigan, and Grand Rapids has more of these than any other city in Michigan. This bridge is an excellent example of a pin connected railroad through truss bridge. Each of the four spans is five panels and follows the Pratt truss configuration. There is a lot of v-lacing on this bridge for a railroad bridge, with it being present on vertical members, sway bracing, and under the upper chord, which adds to the geometric beautiful of the bridge. The bridge sits on attractive stone abutments and piers. Based on the bridge's width, it was built to carry two tracks. The deck has been redone as concrete, and metal pole railings are present on the bridge. The bridge is painted an attractive sky blue.

This bridge serves it new purpose as a pedestrian crossing well, and many people use the bridge during the course of a day, as it connects downtown Grand Rapids to the various attractions on the other side of the river such as Grand Valley State University and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Also, the wide deck of this bridge allowed for benches to be installed on the bridge for people to enjoy the scenery. At night this bridge features decorative lighting, along with the other bridges in downtown over the Grand River. On the 4th of July, this bridge is the hottest spot in town to be since it offers a great view of the fireworks. However, watching the fireworks from Fulton Street instead allows you to enjoy the fireworks with the truss bridge in the foreground. Photos showing just that are available in the photo gallery. There are also photos showing just how many people are on the bridge during that celebration. If you are looking for photos showing a historic truss bridge in use, look no further!

Grand Rapids Railroad Bridge During ArtPrizeIn 2009, this bridge continued to be a positive asset for Grand Rapids when it became a venue for the display of art as a part of the first ever ArtPrize contest, a largely successful and popular event which bring beautiful art to the downtown area. Of the over 1200 artists who participated, three of the top ten winning artists were artists who displayed their art at and on the historic Grand Rapids Railroad Bridge. One piece of art, a giant table, was placed right on top of the trusses of the bridge. The use of the Grand Rapids Railroad Bridge as part of the ArtPrize contest, as well as the success of those art projects who chose to display on the historic bridge, suggests the high level of value a historic metal truss bridge can have for a city if restored and used in the way Grand Rapids has.

This is an excellent example of how truss bridges that have ceased their original function might be reused effectively rather than blown up and thrown in the dumpster. The reuse of this bridge has not only preserved a beautiful historic landmark, but has helped provide a functional and convenient crossing for non-motorized traffic.

In 2013, the bridge was repainted. The community was given a choice of colors, but overwhelming support for repainting the Blue Bridge the color of blue meant keeping the color the same. Also at this time, the decorative lighting was upgraded from the old white necklace style lights to LED color floodlights that have the capability of bathing the bridge in any color light desired. These new lights represent the latest in aesthetic lighting for bridges.

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Photos and Videos: Blue Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

 
View Photo Gallery
Pre-2011 Photo-Documentation
A collection of overview and detail photos. These photos were taken from 2006 through 2010 and include photos of fireworks over the bridge, as well as general night photos of the bridge. This photo gallery contains a combination of Original / Full Sized photos and Mobile/Smartphone Optimized (Reduced Size) photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery
ArtPrize 2009 Displays
Original / Full Size Photos
A gallery of the ArtPrize 2009 displays shown on the bridge. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
ArtPrize 2009 Displays
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A gallery of the ArtPrize 2009 displays shown on the bridge. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2011 Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
2011 Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2013 - Present Day Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery includes photos of the 2013 rehab, and photos of the new color lighting on the bridge. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
2013 - Present Day Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery includes photos of the 2013 rehab, and photos of the new color lighting on the bridge. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer

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