Ten Curves Rd. / Manistique River

MDOT Historic Bridge Schoolcraft County Ten Curves Rd. / Manistique River

County: Schoolcraft

City/Township: Germfask

Location: Ten Curves Rd. / Manistique River

Year Built: 1923

About this Bridge:
The Germfask Bridge carries Ten Curves Road (old M-98) over the Manistique River immediately east of the small town of Germfask. Constructed in 1923 from a MSHD standard design, the structure is comprised of a pair of 90-foot, arched concrete through girders that rest on angled concrete brackets cantilevered from the skewed concrete abutments. A dozen concrete floor beams span between the two girders; these are cast integrally with the 22-foot-wide concrete deck. The arched girders feature typical MSHD detailing, with spandrel walls punctuated by five small arched cutouts aligned over a series of arched recessed panels. Although the Germfask Bridge suffers from severe spalling of its bulkheads and wingwalls and Armco guardrails have been installed at the approaches, it retains a relatively high degree of structural integrity.

The Michigan State Highway Department first developed plans for a long-span concrete through girder bridge with arched girders on cantilevered brackets in the 1921-22 biennium. “These designs have curved top chords and bottom chord brackets,” MSHD reported in its Ninth Biennial Report, making them suitable for relatively long-span applications. The first curved-chord girder was a 90-foot span built in 1922 over the Raisin River at Tecumseh. This was followed in the 1920s by a series of curved girders used in single-span or multiple-span configurations.

Among the earliest of these new bridges was the span that MSHD designed in 1923 for the Germfask crossing of the Manistique River. The Germfask Structure, like the Tecumseh Bridge, featured a 90-foot span. It was part of construction on Trunk Line Route 98 between Germfask and Luce County line. Harry Ericksen, a contractor from Manistique, was awarded the contract to build the bridge; he completed it in 1923 for $26,190.81. Since its completion, the Germfask Bridge has functioned in place. Trunk Line Road 98 has since been downgraded to county road, but the bridge itself remains essentially unaltered. With its 1923 construction date and its 90-foot span, the Germfask Bridge is today noteworthy as one of the earliest and longest remaining examples in Michigan of the MSHD-designed, arched through girder.