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Old Black Creek Bridge

Old Black Creek Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 18, 2010

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Park Trail (Old Highway Alignment) Over Black Creek
Norton Shores: Muskegon County, Michigan: United States
Structure Type
Concrete Through Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Michigan State Highway Department
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
2 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge sits on a long-abandoned alignment and the bridge itself is today essentially abandoned although it remains in use for non-motorized traffic in a park setting. Because it is no longer part of an on-system highway, the bridge is not listed in the National Bridge Inventory, nor is it listed on the Historic Bridge Inventory. As such, the fact that this bridge appears to have a great deal of historic significance has largely been ignored.

It is not known if this roadway this bridge served was an old non-straight alignment for Airline Road, or whether there were originally two roads running through this narrow area. It may have instead been the original direct connection between Grand Haven Road and Getty Street.

This bridge had only been standing for a couple decades when the new and much wider Airline Road Bridge was completed in 1931. Airline Road served as US-16 for a number of years. In 1959, the primary travel corridor through this narrow area became the Seaway Drive divided highway which was initially called Norton-Glade Expressway. The aforementioned Airline Road Bridge also still exists, albeit serving local traffic. As such, three generations of highway bridges can be seen here.

The Black Creek girder bridge appears to be one of the oldest surviving examples of a concrete girder bridge in Michigan, and it is an extremely rare multi-span example of a concrete girder as well. Although the plaque has been stolen from the bridge, a "scar" left behind reveals the size of the plaque and where it was mounted. The location of the plaque and more importantly the size of the plaque, being the smaller design that was only used for a few years on the earliest state standard girder and arch bridges, suggest that this bridge is among the oldest girders in Michigan. It may date to c. 1916. The design of the girders themselves are also more like the design seen on the older girders in Michigan. For these reasons, the bridge should be assigned a high level of historic significance.

The appearance of the bridge is unusual because the pier is notably higher than the abutments, and so the flat decks of each span angle up toward the pier, giving the bridge its odd appearance. It is not known if this is part of the original design or if the abutments are sinking. Also, the quality of the concrete or the success of its pouring in one of the girders appears to be higher than the other girder, since one girder has notably more spalling on it while the other one is in amazingly good condition.

The old roadway that this bridge once served is completely removed and no evidence of it is visible around the bridge. However the old roadway does serve as the entrance to the park the bridge is in. Most of this park road is today gravel, but the first short section of the park entrance retains the concrete from the old highway alignment. This section of roadway is historically significant as an unaltered surviving example of a very early concrete roadway in Michigan. The concrete is cracked and worn, but there is no overlay obscuring the original material. It offers a rare look at a form of transportation heritage that is normally either destroyed or hidden by overlays and patches.


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Maps and Links: Old Black Creek Bridge

This bridge is on abandoned alignment in a park setting. Grand Haven Road just south of Seaway Drive (BL-31) is where the park entrance is located. Bridge is visible to the north from the parking lot.

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Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

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

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