This bridge crosses the Grand River at the approximate location of Devos Place and the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and as such received a fair amount of attention, even on national television, during the funeral of former president Gerald Ford, as most of the Grand Rapids events for the funeral revolved around this area.
At 474 feet, this bridge appears to be the fourth longest concrete arch bridge in Michigan. The Belle Isle Bridge, Fulton Street, and Pearl Street take first, second, and third places. It is an earth-filled structure. The ends of the bridge are flared slightly, and this can be seen when standing beside the bridge, by looking at how the last arch span curves outward at the end.
This bridge was renovated for pedestrian use. The piers appear to have been repaired, and the superstructure appears to have had little deterioration in the first place. The historic integrity of the superstructure, thus has remained intact. The deck was however heavily modified. A fancy bridge, cement, and stone walkway was applied to the deck, and the railings are not heavy concrete with pole railings. The walkway looks nice; the railings leave much to be desired. In 1988 the bridge was apparently rededicated as the Gillett Bridge in honor of Richard M. Gillett, former president of the Old Kent Bank. Note the correct spelling "Gillett", however many people often spell out the bridge name as "Gillette Bridge."
Above: Historical postcard of bridge.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory
This is the third longest known surviving earth-filled concrete arch bridge in Michigan, with an overall length of 472 feet. The Fargo Engineering Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan, a major Michigan civil engineering firm in the early twentieth century and the corporate predecessor of Commonwealth Associates, designed this bridge for the Michigan Railway Engineering Company, which used it initially to carry its street railway lines across the Grand River.
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