Construction Equipment Guide seems very pleased to report
Detroit Bridge Ready for Some Football.

If you’re headed to Super Bowl XL in Detroit, MI, this February, you might be pleasantly surprised — and impressed — by Detroit’s newly completed $14-million Gateway Bridge spanning Telegraph Road along I-94 in Taylor.

The graceful twin arches join the giant Uniroyal Tire in welcoming visitors on the drive into downtown from the new Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The Detroit Regional Gateway Advisory Council (DRGAC) — a collaboration between state and local governments and private sector investors formed in 2002 — expect the bridge to enhance the image of metro Detroit, improve the regional transportation system and provide impetus for future regional partnerships.

“These I-94 improvements will go a long way to enhance the first impressions of visitors and more accurately reflect the quality of life enjoyed by those of us who live in the Detroit region,” reported Paul Hillegonds, president of Detroit Renaissance.

DRGAC raised $1.5 million from private sector donations and grant money through Detroit Renaissance, and received a commitment of more than $7 million from the state of Michigan, plus $500,000 from the city of Taylor. Wayne County and the city of Detroit pledged a combined total of $250,000 per year to maintain the improvements.

“There was a lot of negative feedback initially,” confirmed Kim Avery of MDOT. “But the bridge really signifies cost savings. There were under-clearance issues because the beams and span are narrower than conventional bridges. Otherwise, we would have had to lower the road. That would have been more expensive with all the roadwork involved. This bridge has a thinner deck and beams.”

Avery noted that private sector funds made up much of the $1.5 million price difference, and that the governor favored the plan. “He liked the savings features, and the fact that it met political requirements.”

Like many other states facing budget crunches, Michigan has “put the brakes on expansion projects,” she explained, “but this is considered preservation and rehabilitation.”

The Gateway Bridge falls under Michigan’s “preserve first” plan.

Preserve First?
Here is a picture of what $14 million of preservation buys:

Now it’s question time:

  1. Is that really an image enhancement?
  2. Even if so, is the enhancement worth $14 million?
  3. Exactly what is being “preserved” by building this bridge?
  4. Does this seem like “putting the brakes on expansion projects”?
  5. Doesn’t Detroit have far more pressing problems than building a bridge shaped like a football?
  6. Doesn’t the annual maintenance budget of $250,000 strike anyone as excessive?
  7. Exactly what “political requirements” were met by this design?
  8. Last but certainly not least, why should bridges have political requirements in the first place?

Mike Shedlock / Mish/