Building bridges in just a fraction of time

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Sometimes, I think there isn’t anything that humanity can’t accomplish.

A good example is the new M-100 bridge that the Michigan Department of Transportation slid into place over the Canadian National Railway on Saturday.

The 1 million pound bridge in Potterville, a bucolic burg with a population of about 2,600, was inched into place by crews as trains roared underneath the new span.

According to MDOT, two pushing cylinders capable of 18 tons of force were needed to laterally move the structure 77 feet into its new bed.

Starting early Saturday morning, it took crews about nine hours to move the structure into its position. After then working on the approaches, crews had the bridge reopened to traffic by 6 p.m. Sunday.

A traditional bridge replacement requires months of lane closures and detours as the old bridge is demolished and then rebuilt from scratch.

But with this method, the new bridge is constructed along side the old bridge, which still carries traffic. Once the new bridge is constructed the old span is demolished (usually over a weekend), and then the new bridge slides in to take its place.

Interesting side notes: Potterville has had a ration of bad luck that seems to be way out of proportion to its size.

On July 6, 1994, a lightning strike at the city’s Fox Beach injured 22 beach-goers.

On Sept. 2, 1994, an earthquake measuring 3.4 on the Richter Scale had its epicenter just east of the city. Dishes broke but there were no injuries.

On Memorial Day weekend in 2002, the entire city was safely evacuated due to propane fumes after a massive derailment of 35 Canadian National railroad cars.

In May 2006, another derailment occurred but this one didn’t require the evacuation of the city.

On Jan. 30, 2012, a fire broke out in the downtown section of the city, destroying two antique shops, a book store, Masonic Lodge, a dog grooming shop and two apartments.

No one was injured but the blaze, which took 12 hours to extinguish, destroyed a number of buildings more than 100 years old.

(313) 222-2023

1. I-75: In Detroit, SB will have shoulder work from Clifford to John R from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday for lighting work.

2. I-75: In Detroit, SB will have lighting work from I-94 to West Grand Boulevard from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday.

3. I-94: In Detroit, EB and WB will have single lane closures from Mt. Elliott to French roads from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

4. I-94: In Detroit, EB will have the right lane closed at Woodward for bridge work from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. on Saturday.

5. I-696: In Ferndale, EB will have shoulder work from Woodward to Mohawk from 9 a.m. today until 3 p.m. Saturday.

6. I-696: In Southfield, EB will have one lane closed for repairs from Franklin to Evergreen from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Friday.

7. M-29 (North Riverside Avenue): In New Baltimore, the road will be closed between Clinton and Brown streets from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Friday for a special event.

8. M-39 (Southfield Freeway): In Detroit, NB and SB will have the right lane closed from Plymouth to Joy from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

9. Southfield Freeway: In Detroit, the SB ramp to Joy will have intermittent closures from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for repairs.

10. Indianwood: In Orion Township, the right turn lane to SB Joslyn is closed for utility work. One lane will remain open to traffic. The lane will reopen on Dec. 4.