Additional Notes: The road this bridge carries is described as Smith Street on the original plans.
This handsome bridge is perhaps the most extensively decorated bascule bridge in Michigan. The bridge has massive concrete bascule piers that are beautifully adorned with architectural treatment that follows an Art Deco type of design. An early appearance of Michigan's signature type R4 railings are present on this bridge, further enhancing the aesthetic qualities of the bridge. The R4 design was used extensively on the bridge, and even adapted for some non-standard uses such as for a gate to block off access to the bridgetender building and other areas.
The bridge is a relatively large structure, partially on account of approach spans leading up to the double-leaf bascule span. The bridge is noteworthy as an excellent example of a rolling lift bascule bridge that was designed by Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company, which was a leader (and innovator) in rolling lift bascule design. Scherzer and the rolling lift bascule bridge was a competitor to the trunnion bascule bridge, championed by rival engineer Joseph Strauss.
The approach spans on this bridge include steel stringers with outer (fascia) beams encased in concrete and metal diaphragms with circular cutouts. This, combined with the R4 railings in place, make for spans that are detailed very similarly to the Berry Road Bridge. Like the Berry Road Bridge, this bascule bridge is one of the earliest bridges to be built using Michigan's type R4 railing, which was first used in 1932, which explains why there are these design similarities. These characteristics of the approach spans, as well as the early use of the R4 railing add to the significance of the bridge. Indeed, with nearly all examples of 1932 stringer bridges in Michigan having been demolished, the approach spans of this bridge alone might be considered individually historic.
The bridge has been the recipient of a nicely designed rehabilitation that prolonged the life of the bridge but also was very respectful of the historic integrity of the bridge. Although crash-tested metal tube guardrails were added to the bridge, the original R4 railing panels were retained, and the concrete railing posts retain the correct architectural details. Thanks to these efforts, the bridge today retains excellent historic integrity, despite the rehabilitation.
Above: Historical Postcard of Bridge
Source: Donald Harrison, http://www.flickr.com/photos/upnorthmemories/2813627657/, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Unorganized Photos
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