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Main Street Bridge

Main Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: Fall/Winter 2006 and March 4, 2012

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Main Street (US-12 BR) Over St. Joseph River
Niles: Berrien County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1919 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
90 Feet (27.43 Meters)
Structure Length
338 Feet (103.02 Meters)
Roadway Width
30 Feet (9.14 Meters)
4 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

Bridge Status: Demolished and replaced.

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

This bridge, together with the Niles Railroad Bridge, create a unique river scene in Niles that adds a lot of beauty to the city. A river walk passes under this bridge, so it is easy to visit this bridge and many people get to enjoy viewing this bridge during their walks. This bridge is slightly inclined (ie constructed with a grade), and so the arches are taller at the western end of the bridge.

This deck arch bridge has a coat of protective paint on it, however, it does not appear that any work was done to the structure prior to paint application. As such, the paint may deceive casual viewers that this bridge is in good condition and has been taken care of. This is not the case, as there is considerable cracking and spalling on the arches. The railings on the bridge are not original, although their unusual balustrade-like design might trick casual viewers into thinking they are original.

This bridge is to be demolished and replaced. As of 2014, the Section 106 Review was complete. MDOT said the reason this historic bridge could not be rehabilitated was because it was built on spread footings and that these had deteriorated and had a scour issue, and that they could not be repaired or replaced without essentially destroying the rest of the bridge in the effort. This is quite interesting, because just south of this bridge across the state line in Indiana there are a bunch of historic concrete arch bridges crossing the St. Joseph River, and nearly all of them have been beautifully preserved and rehabilitated. Apparently, the Indiana bridges were either built without spread footings, with better spread footings, or they were maintained better by Indiana this Michigan bridge was, and never developed the same level of deterioration. Whatever the case, it was nice to have a Michigan arch bridge to compare to the Indiana bridges, and the demolition of this bridge will eliminate that opportunity. Its very disappointing that this bridge will not be preserved.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory

Narrative Description

This is the fourth largest earth-filled concrete arch bridge known to survive in Michigan, with an overall length of 338 feet. It is located on US-12 over the St. Joseph River in Berrien County.


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