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M-94 Au Train River Bridge

M-94 Au Train River Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Randy Mulder

Bridge Documented: June 26, 2011

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
M-94 Over Au Train River
Rural: Alger County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1919 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
47 Feet (14.3 Meters)
Structure Length
47 Feet (14.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
38 Feet (11.58 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge is a small arch bridge that was built in 1919. In 1955, the bridge was widened and the original railings were replaced with Michigan's type R4 railings. While these railings are not original, they look very attractive and allow this bridge to remain a visually pleasing and interesting structure. Indeed these alterations are over 50 years old and could be considered to have some level of heritage value as they allow for interpretation of how the highway department was able to increase the service life of a narrow arch bridge on a busy state trunkline road. The ability to widen an arch bridge could actually be considered a "feature" of the concrete arch bridge. In  the early developmental years of concrete arch bridges (1900-1915), noted proponent and builder of concrete arch bridges Daniel Luten frequently advertised how concrete arch bridges were "permanent" bridges because unlike the metal truss bridges that were common during his time, concrete arch bridges could be easily widened when traffic volumes increased.

At some point, modern Armco guardrails were added to the bridge. One of the wooden posts is mounted directly on top of the bridge plaque. This is ridiculously insensitive on the part of the owner agency because it obstructs the view of the plaque, making it impossible for researchers to read the plaque and identify builders, engineers, etc. This is a repeated problem in Michigan that demonstrates a lack of concern for the value of a bridge plaque in interpreting the history of a bridge. In some cases, Michigan has even literally drilled holes right through the plaques to mount guardrails, something that irreversibly damages and defaces the plaque and is completely unacceptable. The wooden post should either be mounted someplace else or in a different manner that does not block the plaque. Alternatively, the plaque could be relocated to a different unobstructed part of the bridge. Even though this bridge is not an "official" historic bridge, it might become eligible in the future as arch bridges become more rare in Michigan, and information on the plaque might be needed to determine if the bridge qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places.


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