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College Avenue Bridge

College Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: March 11, 2007

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
College Avenue Over Railroad (Grand Rapids Eastern)
Location
Grand Rapids: Kent County, Michigan: United States
Structure Type
Concrete Slab, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1915 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1962
Main Span Length
25 Feet (8 Meters)
Structure Length
99 Feet (30 Meters)
Roadway Width
42.7 Feet (13.01 Meters)
Spans
4 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
414278400558R01

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

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

View Original and Rehab Plan Sheets For This Bridge.

This bridge was demolished and replaced in 2008!

This unusual bridge was demolished and replaced, as it was in very serious condition. At the time of demolition, the bridge was not particularly significant because it was so heavily modified, but it does have an interesting history that can be told by simply looking at the bridge. The original bridge dates to 1915. All that remains of this bridge today are the concrete piers, abutments, and the arched concrete sections at the edges of the bridge seen above. The main superstructure and deck has been replaced with a slab that is similar to modern slab bridges built today. The railings on the main span date to this more recent change. However, somewhere between this event and the 1915 construction of the bridge, another major modification took place. Standard Michigan R4 type railings that generally date from the mid-1930s through 1960 are present on the approaches, suggesting that during that time some other change took place.

These initial onsite suspicions are easily confirmed by glancing some of the plan sheets for this bridge. Take a look at the below drawing.

Indeed the original elevation plan sheet for the bridge, although in poor condition, reveals a structure that was truly beautiful and ornate, with its striking superstructure a pattern of short arches being complimented by attractive balustrade railings that also included decorative light standards. Detail of the railing is shown below.

In 1960-1961, the bridge was heavily altered when a partial replacement took place. The original balustrade railings were replaced with the Michigan's R4 standard railings. It was at this time that the majority of the superstructure was replaced with pre-stressed concrete box beams. A drawing from those plans showing the bridge after these proposed alterations took place.

 

Later, in 1987, nearly all of the R4 railings were replaced with ugly modern guardrails, which were in place when the bridge was photo-documented by HistoricBridges.org.

In conclusion, at the time the bridge was demolished, the bridge was an interesting conversation piece, but retained low historic and structural integrity. In particular, the supports for the bridge, which are not very massive to begin with, have spalled and deteriorated severely. They have even been braced with a steel beam in one area. Still, the bridge is worth noting on this website, because it offered a look what was originally a beautiful and extremely unusual bridge. In particular, the original plans for the bridge reveal that this once was a proud structure that truly offered beauty to its surroundings. Rather than being replaced all at once however, it was in reality slowly demolished and replaced over a period of decades, each alteration progressively reducing both the historic integrity and beauty of the bridge. 

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Photo Galleries and Videos: College Avenue Bridge

 
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
A collection of overview and detail photos. This photo gallery contains a combination of Original Size photos and Mobile Optimized photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: College Avenue Bridge

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

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