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190th Avenue Bridge

190th Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: Fall/Winter 2006

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
190th Avenue Over Little Muskegon River
Rural: Mecosta County, Michigan: United States
Structure Type
Concrete Through Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1916 By Builder/Contractor: E. W. Baldwin of St. Louis, Michigan and Engineer/Design: Michigan State Highway Department
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
45.0 Feet (13.7 Meters)
Structure Length
91.0 Feet (27.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
17 Feet (5.18 Meters)
2 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

Bridge Status: Demolished and replaced.

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This bridge served what could be called a first generation trunk line road. Serving as a trunk line road during the early years of the state trunk line system, 190th Avenue is a simple dirt road that follows the gridded system of county roads that characterize Michigan's road system, and as such does not look like what later trunk line roads would look like as they curve and realign as needed for a more efficient connection between communities. An example is nearby Northland Drive which would have been the next trunk line alignment for the area that would have served until US-131 expressway was created.

This bridge is Trunk Line Bridge 61, according to its plaque. Only the oldest trunk line bridges featured such this simple sequential numbering system on the plaque. The structure is a very old 1916 example of a concrete through girder bridge in Michigan. As a two-span structure, it is also a fairly long example and a rare multi-span example. The structure is today in fair condition, but it is in need of a restoration if it is to continue to be a historic landmark for the surrounding area in the coming decades.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory

Narrative Description

Located near the Montcalm County line, this medium-span concrete bridge carries 190th Avenue over the Little Muskegon River. The bridge was constructed in 1916-1917 from a MSHD standard design. It is comprised of a pair of 45-foot, concrete girders that rest on concrete full-height abutments and pier with bullnosed cutwaters. The girders support an 18-foot-wide concrete deck in the through position. Using typically modest MSHD detailing, the bridge features recessed rectangular panels on the outside walls of the girders, massive copings on the girders' tops, and bronze "Trunk Line Bridge" plates mounted on the girders' inside walls. The Little Muskegon River Bridge has suffered a minor amount of spalling of its copings and cutwater, but it is unaltered and retains a relatively high degree of structural integrity.

Soon after the state legislature passed the Trunk Line Act in 1913, several trunk line routes began to coalesce across Mecosta County. Following existing roads as they jogged along section lines, these routes were developed in relatively short, often discontinuous segments in the county. One of the newly designated trunk lines extended east from Big Rapids, through the village of Mecosta to the Isabella County line. The other extended south from Big Rapids to Howard City (in Montcalm County), passing through the village of Morley.

This latter line crossed the Little Muskegon River immediately south of Morley. For this crossing the state highway department engineered Trunk Line Bridge No. 61, a two-span concrete through girder structure. In 1916 a contract to build the bridge was awarded to E.W. Baldwin of St. Louis, Michigan. Baldwin completed the bridge in 1917 for a cost of $9,956.63. The Little Muskegon River Bridge was later incorporated into US-131, before being relegated to county-road status after a highway re-alignment. It continues to carry local traffic in essentially unaltered condition.

The concrete through girder that MSHD built here was based on a standard design that the agency had developed in the 1913-1914 biennium. During the 1910s and 1920s, the highway department delineated straight girders in five-foot increments between 30 and 50 feet for use in a wide variety of applications.

"The reinforced concrete through girder is the design generally employed for spans from thirty to fifty feet in both the eighteen and twenty-foot clear roadway from curb to curb," MSHD stated in its Seventh Biennial Report. "This design lends itself in the majority of cases on account of its very shallow floor system, thereby giving the waterway a maximum clearance under elevation of roadway crossing the bridge."

Statement of Significance

By 1930 the through girder had largely fallen out of favor with the state and county highway departments, but before it was discontinued, perhaps hundreds of these utilitarian structures were built throughout Michigan. The Little Muskegon River Bridge in Mecosta County is noteworthy as the oldest known surviving example of a concrete girder bridge designed by the Michigan State Highway Department.


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Maps and Links: 190th Avenue Bridge

This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.

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2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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