Above: Photo of Troeger's conceptual drawing of the Burton Street Interchange (document housed in Michigan Archives)
The Burton Street US-131 Interchange is a system of bridges and ramps which consists of a US-131 overpass, a railroad overpass, and associated entrance and exit ramps which connect with either Burton Street or adjacent Century Avenue. The entire collection of bridges and ramps should be considered historically and technologically significant as one of the more complete and complex engineering efforts found on the US-131 expressway. There are other interchanges along this section of freeway in Grand Rapids, but the other examples lack the historic integrity, and/or are less complex. The interchange currently is not evaluated as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but such a finding should be considered for this interchange, which now meets the 50 year requirement for eligibility consideration.
The original design of the interchange with US-131 originally included two methods for entering southbound US-131, one being a ramp leading south of Burton Street, the other being a ramp leading from Century Avenue. This ramp does not exist today. It is not known if this ramp was never built or if it was removed. It would not be something welcome on a modern freeway because it was somewhat redundant and would have increased the locations from which traffic merged onto US-131, which would be a safety concern.
Note: This particular page is dedicated to a discussion and documentation of the US-131 Overpass and the associated interchange ramps. The Burton Street Railroad Overpass, while part of the complete interchange system and a contributing structure in terms of the interchange's historic significance, has been given a separate page for clarity and organization.
The Burton Street US-131 overpass is one of the only bridges on US-131 in the area that still has its original R4 railings on it, although modern Armco guardrails have been added as well. The bridge is also noted for its slight grade (incline). The bridge has a superstructure composed of rolled steel stringers.
Michigan State Archives has a set of conceptual architectural drawings that were created during the formation of Michigan's Interstate Highway System. These are different from structural bridge and road plan sheets, they are instead artistic renderings that were created during the initial planning process to design the overall visual/aesthetic appearance of the highway system. The collection is called the Troeger Collection after Philip Troeger who created them for the Michigan State Highway Department.
Some of the Troeger drawings are not specific to a particular location or bridge and are instead generalized concepts, such as what a curved t-beam bridge should look like in depressed (cut) sections of freeway, or what the architectural detailing on bridge abutments should look like. Other sheets are bridge specific. Just by chance, the Burton Street interchange and overpasses are among the specific drawings.
Photos of the Troeger drawing for the Burton Street Interchange are available in the photo gallery.
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