Whether you consider this two bridges or one unique "U" shaped bridge, either way it may be the last surviving example of a bridge using an unusual variation of Michigan's attractive R4 railings. The unique layout of this bridge carries two separate streets that are at an angle to each other as they pass over I-375. At the west end, the two streets meet at an intersection. Because of how the two streets meet at one end of the bridge, the two bridges are physically joined by some steel beams at the west end, which makes them in a sense one bridge. The railing on this bridge has a concrete parapet at the bottom with a short variation of an R4 railing on top. Prior to a major reconstruction, this railing type was used on bridges of the Southfield Freeway. They may have been present on other I-375 bridges at one time as well, but today this is the only known example on either freeway. Sadly, several railing sections have been damaged by people who apparantly struggle with the process of driving. These sections were replaced with concrete.
Dimensions and span numbers refer to the Jefferson Avenue portion of the bridge. See the National Bridge Inventory sheet for data on both bridges.
This bridge is likely at risk for demolition at some point in the distant future. There has been a national movement to turn "into-downtown" expressway spurs like this back into surface streets, to try to reverse some of the cultural damage done by constructing freeways like this. Indeed, one of the two bridges here is noted on the National Bridge Inventory as Hastings Street, perhaps the only remnant (near downtown) of what was once a street in a predmominently black neighbhorhood which was displaced by freeway construction. I-375 has been targeted for such a conversion, which would mean all bridges would be removed. Further for the city of Detroit, this freeway is a bit excessive for the amount of traffic actually flowing into downtown these days. Indeed, the interchange of I-75 with I-375 about a mile northwest of this bridge, is one of the most unusual interchanges in the city. I-75, which runs from Canada to Florida, is one of the most important north-south Interstates in the country (and in Michigan too) and sees massive seasonal traffic from snowbirds. At this interchange, mighty I-75 is squeezed into two lanes that curve through a very sharp ramp to simply stay on I-75. Meanwhile no less than four lanes continue straight as I-375. No doubt people not paying attention to signs or GPS have found themselves in downtown Detroit by mistake. Further, this lane arrangement does not recognize that most traffic stays on I-75. It seems reasonable to expect major changes to take place in this area in the future.
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