M-13 & M-84 / E. Channel Saginaw River

MDOT Historic Bridge M-13 & M-84 / E. Channel Saginaw River

County: Bay

City/Township: Bay City

Location: M-13 & M-84 / E. Channel Saginaw River

Year Built: 1938

About this Bridge:
The Lafayette Avenue Bridge, located in Bay City, carries M-84/M-13 over the Saginaw River. Completed in 1938, the Lafayette Avenue Bascule Bridge is at least the second movable span built on this spot. In 1934, the highway engineers posted maximum loads for three inadequate bridges from 1 ½ to 8 tons. Shortly after that the Lafayette Avenue Bridge was condemned, and this further focused attention to the pressing problem of bridge replacement. Unfortunately, Depression-era financing prevented any action from being taken. Finally, after a city wide bridge survey was taken in 1936, a four-point plan was devised to replace and repair the city’s bridges. The program involved the immediate construction of a temporary pontoon swing span for the Lafayette Avenue structure, followed by construction of a new Lafayette Avenue Bridge, and the rehabilitation of the Belinda Street and Cass Avenue bridges. Financing help arrived in the form of Public Works Administration grants. The temporary pontoon bridge did duty over the Saginaw River for 3 ½ years. The bridge was finished in November 1938, eleven months after construction began.

The new bridge, which was awarded the A.I.S.C. award for the most beautiful moveable bridge of the year, is a Scherzer rolling lift-type with a rear break in the floor in front of the point of support with the bridge closed. Each leaf of the bridge is operated by two 25-hp motors. The lift can be opened for the passage of boats within 90 seconds. Both leaves of the bridge, as well as the traffic gates and signal, are operated from one operator’s house located at the east end bascule pier.