MDOT closes second pedestrian bridge in Detroit for emergency repairs

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Another pedestrian bridge in Detroit has closed for repairs, the Michigan Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The decision to close the bridge near Wayne State University was made following a determination by inspectors who checked the Brooklyn pedestrian bridge over Interstate 94, near the Lodge Freeway, the department said in a statement.

"Previous patches performed on the bridge deck, the walking surface, need replacement," according to the release. "The deck repairs must be done before it can be reopened."

It's the second pedestrian bridge to close in the last week.

Detroit resident Ely Hydes said he was walking to a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park on May 9 when a portion of the Spruce Street pedestrian bridge gave way under his feet.

Hydes, 36, fell nearly 15 feet onto the shoulder of the Lodge Freeway, just feet from traffic, and incurred multiple scrapes and bruises. Hydes said a Detroit police scout car pulled up, and he alerted the officers to the fall and bridge collapse.

The officers followed protocol by securing the area before phoning the city's Public Works Department and leaving voicemail messages, Detroit Police Sgt. William O'Brien said Tuesday.

But the gaping hole in the bridge went unrepaired for a week because Public Works Department Deputy Director Oladayo Akinyemi said agency employees didn't listen to the messages and didn’t relay the damage to officials at the Michigan Department of Transportation, which has responsibility for the state's pedestrian bridges.

MDOT learned of the collapse on May 15 when The Detroit News asked the department to comment on Hydes' fall through the bridge.

Akinyemi said in a text message: "A DPD officer did leave a voicemail regarding this incident in a general mailbox for the street maintenance division after hours. Unfortunately, staff did not get through all the messages to listen to this one, which is something we are addressing internally."

Akinyemi added: "We are also going to make sure that DPD and other city departments have a more appropriate after-hours contact number for issues like this that constitute an immediate safety hazard so they can be received and addressed immediately."

A state repair crew immediately was dispatched to the bridge on May 15 after The News’ inquired, MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said.

The Brooklyn pedestrian bridge over Interstate 94 is expected to reopen on July 1, MDOT said. Until then, pedestrians can use Trumbull Avenue, west of the bridge.

Built in 1955, the structure "has a current rating of poor with inspections required every six months," the department said. "The last inspection was April 2022. The bridge was looked at today as inspectors are double checking all the pedestrian bridges in Detroit that are rated poor."

The Brooklyn pedestrian bridge and the Spruce Street bridge are the only two that require closing for repairs, MDOT said Friday.

A group of Wayne State University students in 2016 visually inspected the then-71 pedestrian bridges in Detroit. Alex Hill, a professor at Wayne State's Center for Urban Studies, who also runs the DETROITography blog about mapping different parts of the city, helped the students with data collection and then created an online map showing the problem bridges.

The study found: "The structural integrity of 33 bridges, or 46%, is compromised. These structures are in operation yet each had observable issues ranging from crumbling and disintegrating concrete to significantly rusted support beams, down signage and missing fencing and railing."

Staff Writer George Hunter contributed.