DETROIT - The Rouge River Bridge near Schaefer and I-75 is 1.6 miles long. That makes it the state's largest bridge, measured by square footage. The heavily traveled bridge is in desperate need of a facelift.
“The facelift is needed because we have been out patching the bridge deck on a fairly increased frequency over the past couple of years,” said Matthew Chynoweth, MDOT Bridge Engineer.
Now The Michigan Department of Transportation is spending $80 million by replacing the surface or the decking of the Rouge River Bridge.
“We’re reaching a point where we’re doing so much patching on the bridge, now it’s really time to take a look and say ‘Is it worth all this, or do we replace?’” said Chynoweth.
Some people may ask, “Why not just replace the whole bridge?” We’re told the steel in the bridge is still sound. Also, it would cost $275 million or more to build a new bridge.
“The bridge deck is really what takes the beating. That’s what gets all the salt. It’s what gets the heavy truck traffic. For a bridge deck of this size to last 50 years – we’re actually pretty happy that it’s lasted this long.”
The money for the project is not coming from the new newly passed road funding bill. MDOT already planned to fix the bridge.
“We knew that this expense was coming, so this money was already set aside to do this before the new funding bill.”
This project will begin in 2017 and will take two years. Yes, there will be some traffic jams.
“We understand it’s a pain, but the new bridge deck is going to add to the safety of the structure.”