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Division Avenue Bridge

Division Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: Fall/Winter 2006

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Division Avenue Over Plaster Creek
Grand Rapids: Kent County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1914 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Michigan State Highway Department
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
51.0 Feet (15.5 Meters)
Structure Length
54.8 Feet (16.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
43 Feet (13.11 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

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

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 railing.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory

Narrative Description

Division Ave. / Plaster Creek

The 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 integrity.

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.

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