Union St. / Boardman River

Union St. / Boardman River

County: Grand Traverse

City/Township: Traverse City

Location: Union St. / Boardman River

Year Built: 1931

About this Bridge:
The South Union Street bridge is eligible for the National Register as a representation of the increasing importance of tourism in this area during the first decades of the twentieth century.

In 1929, the city began planning to replace dangerous bridges over the Boardman River at Cass and South Union streets. When the city learned that the state might take responsibility for the Union Street crossing, it turned its attention to the Cass Street project, while pressuring the state to build the South Union Street Bridge.

State bridge engineer Charles Melick visited Traverse City in October 1929, and concurred that a new bridge was urgently needed. The department completed a survey of the site by December, and sent preliminary plans for review by the city board the following July. Bids for erecting the structure were due 31 December 1930, and the department opened the bids a week later. L. B. Lamb, a contractor from Jackson, won the contract for $66,482. There were additional expenditures for structural steel ($4,959), aggregates ($3,593), field paint ($253), and other items, bringing the project cost to nearly $78,000.

An article in a December 1931 issue of Michigan Roads and Airports reported on the importance of the appearance of the bridge, which was located in a park and served as a major gateway for tourists arriving in the city: "Careful attention was given to the dressing up and sodding of the banks and the face of the reinforced concrete abutments have been paneled and brush hammered as a further aesthetic treatment." Although it is no longer designated as a federal or state route, the South Union Street Bridge is an attractive, well-preserved reminder of the influence of the tourism industry on bridge construction and aesthetics.