MDOT Spent $2.1M on Unused Zilwaukee Bridge Bearings

Wed June 22, 2011 - Midwest Edition

ZILWAUKEE, Mich. (AP) The Michigan Department of Transportation spent $2.1 million on 34 giant bearings for the Zilwaukee Bridge that it won’t use because concrete would have to be removed from the Interstate 75 span to make them fit, an official said. The state plans to hire a contractor to fabricate 134 new bearings next year for the bridge at a cost of $6.8 million, Matthew J. Chynoweth, manager of the state’s Bay City Transportation Service Center, told The Saginaw News for a story published June 3.

“The bearings still need to be replaced, so we’re kind of back to the drawing board,” Chynoweth said.

Crews will install the new bearings, which will weigh several hundred pounds each, in 2013 at a preliminary cost of about $22.5 million. The bearings allow the bridge to expand and contract during temperature swings and handle stress brought by heavy loads. The bearings that it won’t use are in storage in a building beneath the span, located about 85 mi. northwest of Detroit on the busy route between southeast Michigan and the northern part of the state.

The work is part of $35 million in Zilwaukee Bridge construction, which also includes patching and repairing the deck and median barrier in the Interstate 75 bridge over the Saginaw river. The original expansion bearings were part of a 2007-08 maintenance project that went awry.