Mich.’s Zilwaukee Bridge Project Lengthens Detour

Wed June 04, 2008 - Midwest Edition

ZILWAUKEE, Mich. (AP) A $3.3 million project on the Zilwaukee Bridge has hit some road blocks, forcing motorists to steer around the bridge for at least another two months.

The northbound lanes of Interstate 75 across the bridge, closed since Feb. 18 to replace bearings that allow it to expand and contract in changing weather, were due to reopen by the end of March.

But Midwest Bridge Co. of Williamston has determined more than 30 new bearings weren’t designed correctly by an engineer hired by the Michigan Department of Transportation, said company President Steve Zynda.

The project has been halted while MDOT and Midwest Bridge officials assess the situation, Anita Richardson, an MDOT spokeswoman for the Bay Region, told The Bay City Times for a story March 27.

Zynda said he doesn’t know who was at fault in designing the bearings, which already have been made. Each bearing weighs a couple thousand pounds, is circular in shape and 3 ft. (.9 m) in diameter.

“This bridge is a really complicated bridge,” Zynda said. “It’s probably the most complicated bridge in the state.”

The northbound lanes may remain closed until Memorial Day, Richardson told The Saginaw News.

Motorists should use I-675 as an alternate route for the duration.

Richardson said both north and southbound lanes will be closed in phases again next year to replace the bearings.

The Zilwaukee Bridge, which opened in 1988, was plagued with problems during its construction, leading to a federal probe and cost overruns of $44 million.