Parke Lane Rd. / Thorofare Canal
City/Township: Grosse Ile
Location: Parke Lane Rd. / Thorofare Canal
Year Built: 1929 About this Bridge: The Parke Lane Road Bridge is eligible for the National Register as a noteworthy example of aesthetically pleasing design, and as an interesting representative of concrete cantilevered-arch construction. The bridge also qualifies as an outstanding product of the Wayne County Road Commission's bridge engineers. Grosse Ile's written history began in 1679, when it was described by missionary and explorer Father Hennepin. It gained a railroad in 1873, when the Chicago and Canadian Southern Railroad completed a bridge from the Michigan mainland, lying across the Trenton Channel to the west; the link to Canada was by ferry. Although the island was surveyed in 1808, it did not become a separate township until 1914, when it split from Monguagon Township. A writer in 1922 observed: "Grosse Ile is famed as an island of beautiful homes and large estates, many of which are occupied by descendants of the old families associated with the early history of the island." It also housed a naval base and airport by the 1920s. In the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, the township erected a hand-operated swing bridge to carry Park Road (now Parke Lane Road) over the Thorofare Canal, which crosses the northern half of the island on a northeast-southwest diagonal. By 1929, this narrow, lightweight structure was obsolete due to increases in traffic volume and vehicle weight. In addition, the piles supporting the bridge were rapidly deteriorating. The old structure was replaced by an exceptionally attractive concrete cantilevered-arch span. The county road commission's 1928-1929 annual report observed that "the beautiful lines of the arch of this bridge surmounted by its ornamental handrail and cluster lighting is in keeping with the surroundings." County road commission plates on the northwest and southeast railing ends identify the bridge as "Job No. 328," built in 1929. Plates on the southwest and northeast ends identify it as a state reward bridge, and give a construction date of 1930. The state highway department included a photograph of the completed structure in its 1929-1930 biennial report.