|Bridge Name||Facility Carried / Feature Intersected||Location||Structure Type||Construction Date and Builder/Engineer|
6th Street Bridge
||6th Street Over I-94||Rural: Kalamazoo County, Michigan||Concrete Continuous Curved T-Beam, Fixed||1960 By Builder/Contractor: Canonie Construction Company of South Haven, Michigan and Engineer/Design: Michigan State Highway Department|
|Rehabilitation Date||Main Span Length||Structure Length||Roadway Width||Main Spans||NBI Number|
|2006||79.7 Feet (24.3 Meters)||257 Feet (78.3 Meters)||26.2 Feet (8 Meters)||4||39139024000S020|
This bridge is similar to the nearby 4th Street Bridge. On this page for the 6th Street Bridge however a more thorough narrative is available that not only discusses the 6th Street Bridge but also discusses both of these bridges as a whole.
A photo-documentation of these bridges on Labor Day of 2006 was not a moment too soon. A repair project had been underway, and at that time all repair work had been completed for both bridges, with the only thing remaining being the addition of modern Armco guardrails, which make the bridge less attractive and damage the historic integrity, although not as much as removing them completely, as has unfortunately been done elsewhere. The 4th Street Bridge had new approach railings installed and even had some holes drilled into the original guardrail posts to screw the new railings in. 6th Street offered a different unique opportunity that day however. While construction work on the bridge itself had been done, modern railings had neither been installed on the bridge itself, nor even on the approach railings. The bridge was still closed to traffic for repair as such. This offered a unique opportunity to photo the bridge with unprecedented historic integrity. While a few of these bridges retain integrity in that modern railings have not been added to the bridge itself, you will not find an expressway overpass without modern guardrails at least leading up to the bridge on the approach. This was a unique opportunity on the 6th Street Bridge made possible only by the repair project, which included removing the old approach guardrails. When this bridge was first built, there may have been approach railings, but they were likely steel cable railings which would not be as readily visible.
Although among the newer bridges featured on this website, Michigan's special curved t-beam overpass design featured a very aesthetically pleasing design, which is derived from the graceful design of the arched beams alongside the standardized, yet detailed railing design of the period. These bridges are a rare case where an expressway bridge has aesthetic value. There are a number of this curved t-beam bridge type remaining in Michigan, mostly on I-94, but only a few still remain with no modifications to the railings. Sigler Road is one of the oldest. As such, each example that remains without modern railings is historically significant in my opinion.
What should MDOT have done instead when they repaired this bridge? First off, it is debatable as to how badly these bridges really needed added railings. There is an elevated sidewalk-like portion of the deck that acts like a concrete curb, which helps to keep cars from ever even reaching the railings. There has been no damage to the railings of both the 4th and 6th Street Bridges over the 50 years of serving vehicular traffic. However, if railings did need to be added, there are other safe railings that do not block off as much visually. Those seen on Maple Road Bridge are one such example. While these would still affect integrity, they would not create the solid wall that the currently added railings show.
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