US-23 / Cheboygan River

MDOT Historic Bridge US-23 / Cheboygan River


County: Cheboygan

City/Township: Cheboygan

Location: US-23 / Cheboygan River

Year Built: 1940

About this Bridge:
The Cheboygan Bascule Bridge, located in the county seat of Cheboygan, carries US-23 over the Cheboygan River. The structure is comprised of three steel deck girder spans: the center movable span, flanked by two uniform-depth fixed girders. The structure extends 155 feet – the three spans are 42 feet, 70 feet, and 42 feet respectively – with a 40-foot-wide roadway. When raised, the bridge provides a 60-foot-wide river channel for passing water craft.

Built in 1940, the Cheboygan Bascule Bridge is at least the second movable-span structure at this site. The current structure replaced a 70-year-old, iron swing-span bridge here, reportedly made hazardous by long use and heavy traffic. According to MSHD Commissioner G. Donald Kennedy, the old bridge vibrated noisily under traffic, and its unloaded end caused the “rusty old structure [to] bounce up and down on its seat.”

The new heavier, wider bridge must have come as a relief to the citizens of Cheboygan. The new bridge was engineered in early 1940. Construction of the bridge and its approach grading was set to begin in May 1940 and to finish by late fall. It was completed by December 1940, slightly behind schedule but just before wartime restrictions on critical materials went into effect.

The Cheboygan Bascule Bridge was the last bascule bridge built in Michigan before World War II. The Cheboygan Bridge linked the entire length of Lake Huron from Port Huron to Mackinaw City and served as a connecting link between shoreline US-23 and mid-state north-south route US-27.

Kennedy predicted that the span would help progress in the northern section of the state and “add greatly to the popularity of this scenic highway among the thousands of tourists who annually visit northern Michigan.” The new bridge was also notable for its safety, incorporating multiple safety devices such as safety barriers, traffic gates and traffic lights.