|Bridge Name||Facility Carried / Feature Intersected||Location||Structure Type||Construction Date and Builder/Engineer|
College Avenue Bridge
||College Avenue Over Railroad (Grand Rapids Eastern)||Grand Rapids: Kent County, Michigan||Concrete Slab, Fixed||1915 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown|
|Rehabilitation Date||Main Span Length||Structure Length||Roadway Width||Main Spans||NBI Number|
|1962||25 Feet (7.6 Meters)||98.8 Feet (30.1 Meters)||42.7 Feet (13 Meters)||4||414278400558R01|
This unusual bridge was demolished and replaced, as it was in very serious condition. At the time of demolition, the bridge was not particularly significant because it was so heavily modified, but it does have an interesting history that can be told by simply looking at the bridge. The original bridge dates to 1915. All that remains of this bridge today are the concrete piers, abutments, and the arched concrete sections at the edges of the bridge seen above. The main superstructure and deck has been replaced with a slab that is similar to modern slab bridges built today. The railings on the main span date to this more recent change. However, somewhere between this event and the 1915 construction of the bridge, another major modification took place. Standard Michigan R4 type railings that generally date from the mid-1930s through 1960 are present on the approaches, suggesting that during that time some other change took place.
These initial onsite suspicions are easily confirmed by glancing some of the plan sheets for this bridge. Take a look at the below drawing.
Indeed the original elevation plan sheet for the bridge, although in poor condition, reveals a structure that was truly beautiful and ornate, with its striking superstructure a pattern of short arches being complimented by attractive balustrade railings that also included decorative light standards. Detail of the railing is shown below.
In 1960-1961, the bridge was heavily altered when a partial replacement took place. The original balustrade railings were replaced with the Michigan's R4 standard railings. It was at this time that the majority of the superstructure was replaced with pre-stressed concrete box beams. A drawing from those plans showing the bridge after these proposed alterations took place.
Later, in 1987, nearly all of the R4 railings were replaced with ugly modern guardrails, which were in place when the bridge was photo-documented by HistoricBridges.org.
In conclusion, at the time the bridge was demolished, the bridge was an interesting conversation piece, but retained low historic and structural integrity. In particular, the supports for the bridge, which are not very massive to begin with, have spalled and deteriorated severely. They have even been braced with a steel beam in one area. Still, the bridge is worth noting on this website, because it offered a look what was originally a beautiful and extremely unusual bridge. In particular, the original plans for the bridge reveal that this once was a proud structure that truly offered beauty to its surroundings. Rather than being replaced all at once however, it was in reality slowly demolished and replaced over a period of decades, each alteration progressively reducing both the historic integrity and beauty of the bridge.
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