This bridge is part of an interesting historic bridge history Below is a short summary of a series of events of which this bridge is a part. Consider the narrative below.
There are three bridges that are discussed in this article:
Back in 1920, Gratiot Road was US-25, a major route connecting Port Huron and Detroit. A bridge was needed to cross the Belle River in St. Clair County, and a pony Parker truss was selected and built there. The bridge was fabricated, and perhaps designed as well, by the Sarnia Bridge Company. In 1927, up in Midland County, this Irish Street Bridge was constructed to carry US-10 over the Salt River. By 1931, Gratiot Road (US-25) was becoming increasingly busy. It was decided that a new beam bridge would be needed there. As a result, the concrete Belle River Bridge was constructed. This is most likely the time when a center lane was added to US-25 to serve as a passing lane for both directions of traffic. The center lane would later be known as a death-lane due to deadly head-on collisions that it caused as a shared passing lane. Gratiot today no longer has that lane, but all the old bridges are wider than the current two-lane road because of this former lane. The wider width of the roadway needed for this passing lane may have been what made the two lane truss bridge, which had only been in service for 12 years, inadequate for the roadway. As a result, a three-lane beam bridge was constructed right beside the parker truss bridge, on the northern side. The truss bridge likely remained open to traffic while this bridge was built. The Parker truss abutments still remain right next to the beam bridge even today, which lead to this assumption. Meanwhile in Midland County, a realignment had been designed for US-10, which relocated the Salt River crossing south a little ways, next to the Pere Marquette Railroad tracks; the site of current day North Saginaw Road. It was decided that the truss bridge from US-25 would work fine for US-10, and it was relocated to the new US-10 crossing in 1932. A standard Michigan State Highway Department Plaque was placed on the abutment for the bridge in Midland County to credit the 1932 repairs and substructure construction. As a result of all this, the Irish Street Bridge, now former US-10 alignment, reverted to local control, having been a trunk line bridge for only five years. The parker truss bridge from St. Clair County likely served US-10 traffic until the US-10 expressway was completed. Upon completion of the US-10 Expressway, North Saginaw Road ceased to be US-10 and was reverted to local control. A side effect of this, would have been reduced traffic on North Saginaw Road, which allowed the truss bridge to still be a viable crossing up to modern times. Recently, Midland County Road Commission decided to replace the Parker truss bridge. The Parker truss bridge was once again relocated and restored, ending up this time on Perrine Road north of the US-10 expressway near Midland. The Parker truss bridge remains open to traffic today in this location.
The Irish Street Bridge, then, is historically significant as a survivor to this story. Retaining Trunk Line Bridge plaques, it reminds visitors to the bridge that it was once part of US-10.
The Irish Street Bridge is itself a beautiful bridge, and is not far from a restored 7 Mile Road Bridge, which is oddly enough a 90 foot plan concrete camelback as well. The Irish Street Bridge is located, other than the slab bridge visible on nearby North Saginaw Road, in a very scenic area. Since it is today located on a quiet roadway, it is in great condition. It is posted with a weight limit of 73 tons. You can bypass the non-historic North Saginaw Road Bridge using West River Road to get to Irish Street. Irish Street then crosses the river, before leading back to North Saginaw Road. It is a nice and very short scenic detour that offers a look at a nice piece of transportation heritage. This is likely the approximate path of the old alignment of US-10.
This bridge was listed as 95 feet in the National Bridge Inventory. The design of the bridge is built to the 90 foot plan however.
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