M-10 NB / I-94

mdot historic bridges wayne county M-10 NB / I-94

County:  Wayne

City/Township:  Detroit

Location:  M-10 NB / I-94

Year Built:  1953

About this Bridge:
This bridge is part of the interchange between I-94 (Edsel Ford Expressway) and M-10 (John C. Lodge Expressway). The original railings have been replaced by a solid concrete Jersey barricade. Piers supporting the bridges’s six steel-stringer spans consist of four square-section posts; each post is trimmed with an incised line to form a “capital.” The posts are separated by slightly pointed, flat-arch openings.
In the early 1940s, the Wayne County Board of Supervisors directed its road commission to study the feasibility of a north-south expressway as a post-World War II construction project. The route would complement an east-west crosstown freeway (later the Edsel Ford Expressway/Interstate 94), which was also being planned. Engineers soon narrowed the prospective north-south route to a nine-mile corridor generally following the course of Hamilton and Sixth, a densely developed urban area. By January 1944, the road commission presented the Detroit Common Council with a preliminary plan for a limited-access road with three 12-foot lanes in each direction divided by a 14-foot median. Entrance and exit ramps were placed at approximately quarter-mile intervals. The road was designed to carry 9,000 vehicles per hour. Local traffic was served by 30-foot-wide one-way service drives flanking the depressed expressway, and by overpass bridges every five or six blocks.

The feasibility of the project was greatly enhanced by the Federal Aid Law of 1944, which permitted federal funds, for the first time, to pay for highway construction in urban areas. The estimated price tag for the Lodge was $50 million. The state highway department, which controlled the federal funds, reached an agreement with Wayne County and the city of Detroit whereby federal aid would cover 50 percent of the highway’s cost. The state would pick up another 25 percent, with the remainder split evenly between the county and the city. Since the expressway was to become part of the state trunkline system, the state highway department would normally have been responsible for its design and construction. The capacity of the state’s engineering department, however, was stretched by work on the Ford Expressway, as well as other projects throughout the state. As a result, the Wayne County Road Commission took on the challenge of designing and building the Lodge, except for the section between Holden and Merrick avenues, where the Lodge and Ford intersected. The county had gained experience in freeway construction by developing the Davison Expressway in 1940s, and working with the state on the Detroit Industrial Expressway during the war. Under an agreement between the state and the county, the state let the contracts for both the Ford and Lodge expressways, but the county prepared the plans and over saw the construction of the Lodge.

Construction did not begin until after the end of World War II. The first phase extended north from First Street and Jefferson Avenue to Pallister and Hamilton avenues. The Third Street Bridge was ready by November 1948, and the Milwaukee Avenue Bridge opened in 1948, but other developments in this section proved costly and complicated. Dealing with railroad lines was a particular challenge, since rail traffic could not be interrupted by road construction. Temporary trestles carried trains for two years while permanent bridges were erected. Relocating water, sewer and other utility lines sometimes took longer than anticipated. In addition, right-of-way acquisition costs were high, depleting the amount of money available for work on the expressway. While progress was delayed south of Pallister, the county extended its efforts to the north, opening the Forest Avenue Bridge in 1949, and the Warren Avenue Bridge in 1950.

In October 1950, the first half-mile section of the expressway, the northbound lanes between Holden and Pallister, was put in service. Steel shortages delayed construction of pedestrian and vehicular bridges, including the interchange with the Edsel Ford Expressway, in the following year, but material was once again arriving by November 1951. The project was significantly expedited in January 1952, when the proceeds from an $80 million bond issue became available to fund construction of both expressways. Previously, work had been initiated based on actual cash available. With the new infusion of funds, the state highway department let contracts for 12 bridges over the Lodge in the first seven months of 1952, along with right-of-way demolition and other construction contracts. Plans called for opening the section south from Holden to Grand River Avenue before the onset of winter, but the official ribbon cutting did not occur until 14 January 1953. Traffic was allowed south from Grand River to Howard Street in September 1954, and a two-mile section north from the Ford Expressway interchange to Glendale in Highland Park opened with much fanfare in October 1955. State Highway Commissioner Charles Ziegler cut the ribbon for the latter section. The ceremony included a speech by Charles D. Curtiss, Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads. Curtiss, a Michigan native who had once worked for the state highway department, remarked: “It is fitting that this dynamic city, which has had such an influence on motor transport, should have this expressway system.” Wayne County Engineer Leroy C. Smith added that “the only reason for a dedication is to look ahead – this system is a model for what is to come in Wayne County and in Michigan.” The expressway was christened in honor of John C. Lodge, a Detroit civic leader who had served in a number of public roles, including city council member and mayor.