M-59 bridge demolished after mystery crash

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Michigan road officials don’t know exactly what hit the pedestrian bridge over M-59 near Woodward in Pontiac Thursday — but whatever it was, it did enough damage to necessitate tearing down the overpass.

A crew from state contractor Dan’s Excavating demolished the bridge Thursday night, after a maintenance engineer from the Michigan Department of Transportation Oakland Transportation Service Center noticed the structure was damaged, MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said.

Crews had to demolish a pedestrian bridge over M-59 in Pontiac after noticing structural damage on Feb. 22, 2018

“The maintenance engineer was driving on the freeway and saw that something didn’t look right,” Cross said. “He could tell the bridge support had been hit by something.

“Bridge supports are built pretty strong, so we assume whatever hit it had to be pretty big and was going pretty fast to damage the structure at all,” Cross said.

The damage was discovered about 3 p.m., although Cross said the decision was made to hold off tearing down the bridge until after rush hour. MDOT closed M-59 between Telegraph and Woodward during the work, which began after 8 p.m. Thursday, Cross said.

The crash by itself likely would not have posed a danger to motorists, Cross said. “But when something gets hit like that, there’s a concern about what might happen if it’s hit a second time, so the decision was made to tear the bridge down,” she said.

Cross said there was a similar incident last week. “A semi crashed on 275 on the Cherry Hill Bridge, and we thought at first the bridge would have to come down,” she said. “But it turned out the grease and Hazmat material from the truck made the damage look worse than it was.”

There were no cameras in the area to capture Thursday’s incident, Cross said.

“It’s funny: for years, people didn’t want cameras on the road,” she said. “Now we don’t have enough for them.”


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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN