Michigan officials are
hoping a nearly completed $14-million bridge will brighten tourists
impressions of Detroit as they travel from the airport to Super
Bowl XL in February.
The twin tied-arch steel spans,
designed by Chicago-based Alfred Benesch & Co. last year,
feature two large blue ovals augmented with more ovals that
are supposed to evoke footballs. The exterior arch lengths
are 355 ft, while the interior arches are 305 ft. The arches
reach 70 ft above Interstate 94 and 87 ft above Telegraph
Road, which runs under I-94 in the city of Taylor.
Steel beams in football-shaped arches for Detroit
bridge are for image enhancement.
The design for the 240-ft long
Gateway Bridge cost $2 million more than a conventional plate-girder
bridge, causing some public controversy. The funds for the
design were raised by economic development groups.
"We were told this had to
be done before the 2006 Super Bowl," says Muthiah Kasi,
Benesch chief operating officer. "Its nice to have
a signature bridge...that would give Detroit some attention."
The bridge is part of a larger
$55-million project to improve I-94 between Detroit Airport
and downtown. This included a complete reconstruction of a
three-mile stretch, repaving and improving signage and ramps.
Each span contains 1.4 million
lb of steel, according to MDOT. The steel has three coats
of blue paint and one clear coat to prevent fading. The beams,
fabricated by PDM Bridge in Eau Claire, Wis., had to be brought
in by trucks that detoured around Chicago.
The study in ovals caused some
head- scratching. "Its new to us," says Joe
Mallacore, president of Wall Lake, Mich.-based C.A. Hull Co.,
the bridge subcontractor. MDOT allowed for the contrac-
tor to submit an alternate erection
procedure, he says. "We changed their sequence to pour
the concrete deck with the hanger cables carrying the load,
instead of under-bridge shoring carrying the load." The
arch sections, as heavy as 142,000 lb, were lifted and twisted
into place at 60° angles.
(Photos courtesy of Benesch Co.)