Vernier St. / Swan Creek

MDOT Historic Bridge St. Clair County Vernier St. / Swan Creek

County: St. Clair

City/Township: Fairhaven

Location: Vernier St. / Swan Creek

Year Built: 1922

About this Bridge:
The Vernier Street Bridge is one of the earliest existing examples of the curved top-chord through-girder bridge, a unique design developed and promoted by the Michigan State Highway Department. As such, it is eligible for the National Register.

By 1914, an older bridge crossing Swan Creek at Fairhaven was deemed unsafe to carry heavy loads, and the community approached the St. Clair County Road Commission about a new structure. The board of the commission, which had been established only a year earlier, instructed the county highway engineer to prepare a preliminary survey at the site, and calculate the cost of building a new bridge. By October 1915, a total of $8,000 was apparently appropriated by the county or state for the project, but work was delayed. Later, the Grand Trunk Railroad refused to haul road materials, forcing the bridge project to be abandoned in November 1916.

The project was revived by the state highway department during its 1921-1922 biennium, when it constructed two trunkline bridges over Swan Creek in Ira Township. Both were 50-foot concrete girder spans with 22-foot roadways. Rose Construction from nearby Marine City built one for $9,959.20. The other, which now carries Vernier Street, was erected by contractor J. E. Mason of Michigan City for $11,894.42. The state paid for the total cost of both structures. Rose Construction was finished with their project by the end of the fiscal year on 1 July 1922. A small amount of the J. E. Mason contract was outstanding at that time, indicating that the Vernier Street Bridge was built in that year. At some later date, the state highway was diverted to run closer to the shoreline to the south.