This bridge is an unaltered example of the most common bridge type built in Michigan in the mid-20th Century. This was the steel stringer bridge adorned with Michigan's beautiful type R4 railing standard. Because of this fact, this relatively short structure is not very significant. But like any bridge in Michigan that has R4 railings on it, the structure is attractive looking. The Green Avenue Bridge retains its R4 railings and no modern guardrails have been added to the bridge. The original plaque remains on the bridge as well. As such, its historic integrity is excellent.
This attractive appearance will be in sharp contrast to the ugly replacement slab of concrete that the county is going to build after they demolish this bridge. The drawing at the end of this narrative from the plans for the replacement bridge demonstrates how plain this new bridge will look. It is unfortunate that the county did not consider salvaging the R4 railings from the old bridge to clean, repaint or galvanize, and place on the new bridge. While this would not be preservation, it would at least retain part of the old bridge and would keep the crossing looking attractive.
There apparently isn't a whole lot wrong with this bridge because the contract for the replacement bridge directs the contractor to salvage, clean and provide the steel beams from the bridge to the county road commission. In other words, the road commission thinks these beams still have a use, and they are not simply giving them to the contractor for scrap. This suggests that rehabilitation might have been more appropriate for this bridge.
Another oddity that the plans for the replacement bridge reveal is that Newaygo County has directed that an old fashioned full-size plaque be placed on the bridge. There are a couple other counties in Michigan that do this too, but MDOT and many counties don't bother with large plaques anymore. And why would they? Given how simple, plain, and ugly modern bridges look they really don't offer the world much more than a nicely paved section of roadway, and nobody puts plaques up for sections of pavement. Large plaques like this seem out of place on modern bridges. A drawing of the plaque is shown below at left.
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This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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