Mower Rd./ Cole Drain

MDOT Historic Bridge Saginaw County Mower Road/Cole Drain

County: Saginaw

City/Township: Spaulding Twp.

Location: Mower Rd./ Cole Drain

Year Built: 1920

About this Bridge:
Among the seventeen bridges included from Saginaw County in Michigan’s statewide historic bridge inventory is this three-span concrete structure northwest of Fosters. The structure carries Mower Road over the Cole Drain in rural Spaulding Township. The Mower Road Bridge is comprised of three concrete through girder spans, supported by concrete abutments and massive piers with bullnosed cutwaters.

Built from a standard design by the Michigan State Highway Department, the bridge features straight 45-foot girders, which form the guardrails on either side of the concrete slab deck. The small amount of architectural expression is limited to the rectangular recessed panels on the girders, the heavy corbeled girder caps and the bronze “State Reward Bridge” plates. The Mower Road Bridge has suffered minor spalling and chipping of its girders and differential settling of its piers, but the structure is unaltered and in good condition.

The Mower Road Bridge was designed by the Michigan State Highway Department and built as a State Reward bridge in 1920 by Saginaw contractors Denton and Johnson. Its concrete through girder configuration was based on a standard design that the Michigan State Highway Department had developed in the 1913-14 biennium. The highway department delineated straight girders in five-foot increments between 30 and 50 feet for use in a wide variety of applications in the 1910s and 1920s.

“The reinforced concrete through girder is the design generally employed for spans from thirty to fifty feet in both the eighteen and twenty-foot clear roadway form curb to curb,” MSHD stated in its Seventh Biennial Report. “This design lends itself in the majority of cases on account of its very shallow floor system, thereby giving the waterway a maximum clearance under elevation of roadway crossing the bridge.”

By 1930 the through girder had largely fallen out of favor with the state and county highway departments, but before it was discontinued, perhaps hundreds of theses utilitarian structures were built throughout the state.