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West Grand Boulevard Railroad Overpass

West Grand Boulevard Railroad Overpass

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 1, 2007

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Detroit: Wayne County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1896 By Builder/Contractor: Thomas J. Kennedy and Engineer/Design: W. H. Ashwell and Company
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
50.0 Feet (15.2 Meters)
Structure Length
55.8 Feet (17 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory 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 great way to make sure truck traffic does not travel on residential roads, as this bridge has extremely low vertical clearance. The bridge features a beautiful stone texturing which makes the bridge look like a stone arch to casual viewers. The bridge features an elliptical arch shape that spans the two-lane roadway and both sidewalks. An ugly concrete barrier has been added to the structure. Detroit has many railroad over highway grade separations, but this bridge stands out for its arch design. The bridge is one of the rarest and most significant historic bridges in Michigan. Constructed in 1895, it is one of the oldest... if not the oldest... concrete arch bridges in Michigan, and is among the oldest surviving concrete bridges in North America. It is also the only known example of a concrete arch bridge with Melan type reinforcing in Michigan. Melan reinforcing was essentially solid ribs of arched steel that were encased in concrete. This is quite different from the use of reinforcing rods, or rebar, as found in most examples of reinforced concrete. When completed, the bridge was described as the largest Melan arch bridge in the world. A historical article described the bridge in detail. The bridge's Melan reinforcing consists of 41 built-up riveted steel beams. Each built-up beam is composed of two paired angles connected by lattice. The space between these beams was filled with 1800 cubic yards of concrete. The face of the arch was covered with stone for aesthetic reasons, a practice common in the earlier years of concrete usage in bridge construction, as engineers had not yet figured out how to use concrete itself to produce aesthetic qualities, and people enjoyed the traditional appearance of a stone arch bridge as well. The stone on this bridge was described as Berea stone and Amhurst buff stone.

Below historical photo (note original ornate railing with 1895 date stone) from WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News).

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Melan


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2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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