At the start of 2017, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) began a two-year journey to reconstruct the bridge deck that carries I-75 over the Rouge River. This isn’t simply another bridge over a river; it’s Michigan’s largest concrete bridge deck and the 51st- largest bridge deck in the nation.
The structure is an eight-lane, 1.6-mile-long bridge that has been in service for more than 50 years, carrying more than 100,000 vehicles per day. Built in 1967 at a cost of $25 million and rising 100 feet above the Rouge River, this structure has served as a critical juncture for commuting traffic as well as providing a vital economic trade connection at the Michigan/Canadian international border.
Due to funding challenges, MDOT maintained this vital link through allocating more than $63 million in maintenance repairs since original construction. After many years of successful service, it was clear that an investment of approximately $150 million to re-deck the bridge was now needed to continue to provide long-term economic benefits to the residents and businesses of Michigan.
The project entailed replacing of nearly 1 million square feet of concrete bridge deck, extending the life of this bridge by 50-plus years. The project not only enhanced commuters’ ability to access the city of Detroit, boosting the local economy but also addressed growing traffic needs. There is a high volume of commercial vehicles utilizing this urban freeway connector for the international commerce business that exists between Canada and the United States. Due to the size of the project, a major goal was to minimize disturbances to the motoring public as much as possible. As such, an accelerated construction schedule with innovative solutions was implemented, resulting in a highly successful outcome that will provide continued benefits to the citizens of the state of Michigan.