Wells Bridge

    Escanaba Railroad Bridge and Bay Shore Road Bridge

    The now-demolished Bay Shore Road Bridge carried US Routes 2 and 41 over the Escanaba River in Escanaba, Michigan.


    History

    The Wells Bridge was constructed in 1909-11 by the Delta County Road Commission, overseen by Coleman Nee, to replace a ferry over the Escanaba River. 1 3 The 21-span concrete wrapped steel; bridge crossed over the river and the Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad (E&LS) and was finished at the cost of $40,000, or $20,000 less than estimates from bridge builders at the time. 1 2

    Its cheapness in construction led to long-standing issues with the Wells Bridge. As early as 1922, the crossing was described as unsafe to travel upon because of structural deterioration which was promptly repaired. 3

    In conjunction with the relocation of US Route 2 north of Escanaba, a steel girder bridge was built across the Escanaba River to functionally replace the Wells Bridge in 1929-30. 4 The 350-foot, seven-span crossing included a 36-foot-wide deck width which was more than double the deck width of its predecessor.

    In 1937, large cracks began forming in the concrete superstructure of the Wells Bridge leading to the prohibition of vehicles heavier than 5,000 pounds in weight. 2 3 By the 1940s, it had begun to list downstream because of piers that were sinking. The E&LS railroad, which passed underneath the southernmost span of the bridge, had raised concerns about its structural integrity in 1949 as pieces of concrete were falling when trains passed by it. 2 3 Owing to concerns over safety, the county closed the bridge to traffic in October. 3

    There were brief discussions of replacing Wells Bridge with a new structure but its high potential cost prevented the county from progressing any further on delibrations. 3


    Gallery


    Information

    • State: Michigan
    • Route: US Route 2, US Route 41
    • Type: Beam
    • Status: Demolished - Not Replaced
    • Total Length: 840 feet
    • Main Span Length: 40 feet
    • Deck Width: 20 feet
    • Roadway Width: 16 feet

    Sources

    1. Holth, Nathan. “Bay Shore Road Bridge.” Historicbridges.org, 2012.
    2. Dunathan, Clint. “Good Evening.” Escanaba Daily Press, 21 Jul. 1949, p. 4.
    3. “People Protest Closing Wells Bridge; Engineers Advise Against Repairs.” Escanaba Daily Press, 29 Dec. 1949, p. 2.
    4. “Much building of bridges in the Peninsula.” Escanaba Daily Press, 10 Dec. 1929, p. 3.

    Leave a Reply