This bridge is among the longest truss bridges in Michigan, and it consists of four truss spans and a deck plate girder approach at the west end. There are extremely few multi-span metal truss bridges in Michigan, and Grand Rapids has more of these than any other city in Michigan. This bridge is an excellent example of a pin connected railroad through truss bridge. Each of the four spans is five panels and follows the Pratt truss configuration. There is a lot of v-lacing on this bridge for a railroad bridge, with it being present on vertical members, sway bracing, and under the upper chord, which adds to the geometric beautiful of the bridge. The bridge sits on attractive stone abutments and piers. Based on the bridge's width, it was built to carry two tracks. The deck has been redone as concrete, and metal pole railings are present on the bridge. The bridge is painted an attractive sky blue.
This bridge serves it new purpose as a pedestrian crossing well, and many people use the bridge during the course of a day, as it connects downtown Grand Rapids to the various attractions on the other side of the river such as Grand Valley State University and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Also, the wide deck of this bridge allowed for benches to be installed on the bridge for people to enjoy the scenery. At night this bridge features decorative lighting, along with the other bridges in downtown over the Grand River. On the 4th of July, this bridge is the hottest spot in town to be since it offers a great view of the fireworks. However, watching the fireworks from Fulton Street instead allows you to enjoy the fireworks with the truss bridge in the foreground. Photos showing just that are available in the photo gallery. There are also photos showing just how many people are on the bridge during that celebration. If you are looking for photos showing a historic truss bridge in use, look no further!
In 2009, this bridge continued to be a positive asset for Grand Rapids when it became a venue for the display of art as a part of the first ever ArtPrize contest, a largely successful and popular event which bring beautiful art to the downtown area. Of the over 1200 artists who participated, three of the top ten winning artists were artists who displayed their art at and on the historic Grand Rapids Railroad Bridge. One piece of art, a giant table, was placed right on top of the trusses of the bridge. The use of the Grand Rapids Railroad Bridge as part of the ArtPrize contest, as well as the success of those art projects who chose to display on the historic bridge, suggests the high level of value a historic metal truss bridge can have for a city if restored and used in the way Grand Rapids has.
This is an excellent example of how truss bridges that have ceased their original function might be reused effectively rather than blown up and thrown in the dumpster. The reuse of this bridge has not only preserved a beautiful historic landmark, but has helped provide a functional and convenient crossing for non-motorized traffic.
In 2013, the bridge was repainted. The community was given a choice of colors, but overwhelming support for repainting the Blue Bridge the color of blue meant keeping the color the same. Also at this time, the decorative lighting was upgraded from the old white necklace style lights to LED color floodlights that have the capability of bathing the bridge in any color light desired. These new lights represent the latest in aesthetic lighting for bridges.
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Reused and Unorganized Photos
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