The Ann Arbor Bridges Project is the City of Ann Arbor's highest priority transportation project. The E. Stadium Boulevard bridges over S. State Street and over the Ann Arbor Railroad carry vehicular and pedestrian traffic in an east-west direction, providing one of the few arterial links between the east and west sides of Ann Arbor. Also, because of the bridges' proximity to northbound and southbound arterial roadways that connect to I-94 and the downtown business district, the bridges are essential to many commuters. E. Stadium Boulevard is one of the most traveled corridors in the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.
The bridges are located less than one-quarter mile from the University of Michigan's 101,701-seat football stadium and the 15,000-seat Crisler Arena. A High School and two Middle Schools are located on or near E. Stadium Boulevard. In addition, there are two fire stations located within two miles of the E. Stadium Boulevard Bridges.
The Ann Arbor Bridges Reconstruction project includes removal and replacement of existing bridges over South State Street and the Ann Arbor Railroad, staircase construction at South State Street, U of M pedestrian tunnel extensions, installation of retaining walls and new street lighting along the south and north sides of E. Stadium Blvd, replacement of storm sewer and water main and enhancements to Rose-White Park. E. Stadium Blvd will be reconstructed from Kipke Drive to South Industrial Highway and S. State Street will be reconstructed from Henry Street to Rose Avenue.
November 2009 Bridge Demolition Activities
On November 15th and 16th the City undertook a project to remove 5 beams from the East Stadium bridge over South State Street in order to assure the continued safety of motorists and pedestrians that utilize East Stadium Boulevard and South State Street. The demolition work went well. In order to perform the work it was necessary to close South State Street while the demolition operations were performed and East Stadium Boulevard was reduced to one lane of traffic as well. All work was completed and South State Street was reopened to traffic at about 5:15 p.m. on November 16th.
Condition of Ann Arbor Bridges
The E. Stadium Boulevard Bridge over S. State Street, built in 1928, and the bridge over the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks, built in 1928, are located about 350 feet apart. Both bridges are functionally obsolete, e.g. they do not comply with today's design standards and lack both the needed horizontal and vertical clearances that are required. The bridge over S. State Street is now considered a temporary structure and must be replaced. The bridge over the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks is now considered structurally deficient (it can no longer carry the loads it was designed to accommodate) and will be replaced as well.
In the last several years, the City has reduced the allowable load limits on the E. Stadium Bridge over S. State Street several times and prohibited heavy trucks from using the bridges even though there are major University of Michigan Construction projects going on nearby. In March 2009, the City permanently reduced the traffic lanes on the Bridges from 4-to-2 lanes for the public's safety.
Regional Significance of the Stadium Bridges
The replacement of the two bridges at the E. Stadium Boulevard is essential for maintaining this regional corridor that carries over 25,000 automobiles everyday. East and West Stadium Blvd. with their connections to Maple Rd and Washtenaw Avenue form a six-mile long major corridor connecting to US-23 on the east, M-14 on the north and I-94 on the west. The University of Michigan's Facility Operations is located immediately north of Stadium Boulevard and west of the bridges. There are 1,700 University of Michigan permit parking spaces in the adjacent areas. The UM Athletic Department facilities, most notably the football stadium and Crisler Arena, are also located adjacent to the deficient bridges.
Without the E. Stadium Bridges, the current E. Stadium Boulevard traffic could use the nearby residential streets and will impact the City's signalized intersections within more than a mile. Other entities impacted by the possible closure of the bridges and the loss of the existing direct link between the east and the west sides of the City will be the Public Schools buses, Public Transportation (AATA) buses (22 buses each weekday and buses during football games), emergency vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians, traffic traveling to Ann Arbor via I-94, and the adjacent cities and townships.