This historic bridge was demolished and replaced in 2007!
As trunk line bridges in Michigan go, 1914 is as old as they
can be, since that is when the Michigan State Highway Department began building trunk line bridges for a new
system of state-owned highways. This bridge, was indeed constructed in 1914, and
was the third trunk line bridge to be built in the state!
This bridge is nearly identical, not only in its original
design, but in the type of modification that was done to it, to the
Vienna Street Bridge. This bridge is a year
older than the Division Avenue Bridge. The steel beams that were added to widen
the structure were added in 1935. Vienna Street in contrast, was widened in
1959. The Vienna Street Bridge has the benefit of being easier to photograph,
thanks to less shrubbery and even a trail leading under the bridge. Perhaps
because the modifications to the Division Avenue Bridge were done earlier, the
concrete railing posts have slightly different detailing on them than the Vienna
Street Bridge, and indeed nearly all bridges in Michigan that use this style
Division Avenue Bridge is a medium-span arch bridge in the city of Grand
Rapids. It spans Plaster Creek in the Comstock Park are at the north end
of the city. The bridge is a 50-foot, filled spandrel arch, with earth
fill and an asphalt-surfaced roadway that is flanked on both sides by
concrete sidewalks. The elliptically shaped arch springs from massive
concrete abutments. It features a tapered arch ring, which is cast
integrally with the plain-faced concrete spandrel walls.
The Division Avenue Bridge was a heavily altered in 1935 by the addition
of deep I-beam stringers on both sides. The deck was widened from its
original 28-foot roadway width to its present 43-foot configuration, the
original concrete guardrails were replaced with MSHD standard steel
rails, and the abutments were extended to carry the new beams. These
alterations have seriously diminished the structure's physical
In 1913 the Michigan State Legislature passed the State Trunk Line Act,
which authorized the designation of a trunk-line network totaling nearly
3,000 miles. The act stipulated that the state highway department would
design, build and maintain trunk line bridges spanning 30 feet or more,
if the county or local government improved three miles of adjacent road.
Soon after its passage, a mainline route north of Grand Rapids was
designated. Just north of the city the route crossed Plaster Creek on a
deteriorating timber pile bridge. To entice the state highway department
to build a new bridge here, the Kent County Road Commission built a
three-mile stretch of the road in 1914. The department approved the
bridge, turning its design over to MSHD Bridge Engineer C.V. Dewart. For
the crossing, Dewart delineated this medium-span concrete arch bridge,
designating it as Trunk Line Bridge No. 3. MSHD awarded the contract to
build the bridge to Illinois Bridge Company of Chicago, which apparently
subcontracted with Grand Rapids contractor K.S. Riser for at least part
of the construction.
The Division Avenue Bridge was completed in 1914 for a cost of
$6,063.09. Later incorporated into US-131, it carried mainline traffic
for over 20 years before MSHD widened it in 1935. The agency later added
steel beams outside of the arch's spandrel walls and re-worked
abutments. Since then the Division Avenue Bridge has continued to carry
heavy vehicular traffic without further alterations.
Photo Galleries and Videos: Division Avenue Bridge
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Maps and Links: Division Avenue Bridge
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.