Hines Dr. / Old M-14

mdot historic bridges wayne county Hines Dr. / Old M-14

County:  Wayne

City/Township:  Livonia

Location:  Hines Dr. / Old M-14

Year Built:  1948

About this Bridge:
Edward N. Hines Drive follows a pleasantly wooded parkway along the Rouge River. Just before it reaches Plymouth, it crosses over Ann Arbor Road (Old M-14). The railings on the rigid-frame structure consist of three rows of horizontal metal channels on metal box posts, with solid concrete parapets on the ends over the abutments. Sidewalks are on each side of the roadway, which carries two lanes of traffic in each direction and wide shoulders. Modern metal guardrail has been added to pipe posts between the southwest sidewalk and the road; a cable runs along the top of this rail.

By the 1920s, enlightened planners recognized that Wayne County’s rural character would quickly be transformed by the automobile. Leroy C. Smith, manager of the Wayne County Road Commission, warned that “an industrial center like Detroit is likely to place too much emphasis on the commercial highway and partially lose sight of the beautiful and restful places which still may be preserved.” The road commission sought to capitalize on the rivers winding through the county by edging them with parkways. In November 1929, Wayne Count Road Commissioner Edward N. Hines announced plans to develop a parkway system along the Rouge River and its branches. The parkway was soon named in his honor. In a paper delivered in February 1931, Leroy Smith explained that “the eventual plan is to include all the land along this stream from Detroit to Northville and from the top of the bank on one side of the river to the top of the bank on the opposite side.” He continued: “The plan includes a parkway drive following the stream through the lowland, with grade separations at important highway and railroad crossings...Such a drive, winding through a valley flanked with wooded slopes and rolling hills, will be unequaled as a parkway development.” The purpose of the parkway was two-fold: to decrease traffic congestion on other routes, and to server “the individuals who need fresh air, sunshine, and care free recreation.”

The commission’s first priority was to procure the necessary land. It then turned to developing the road and other amenities. Work first concentrated on a section of the river valley between Northville and Plymouth, in the northwestern corner of Wayne County. The parkway was established as far east as Newburgh Road before World War II. By the end of the war, the commission was eager to extend the route from Newburgh Road to its eastern terminus at Ford Road and Rouge Park. The commission had acquired the land and designed eighteen bridges to serve the parkway and intersecting roads. The structures, which were estimated to cost $1.5 million to erect, included ten highway grade separations, six river crossings, and two bridges that crossed both the river and the parkway.

One of the first highway grade separation to be completed was over Ann Arbor Road. The structure was built as a federal-aid secondary project, a cooperative venture between the federal government, the state highway department, and the Wayne County Road Commission. It was erected by contractor J.H. Baker and Sons in 1947. The county road commission’s 1946-1947 annual report explained that an important consideration rushed the construction: “This structure was completed to an extent that Ann Arbor Road traffic could pass under the structure before the football season at Ann Arbor.” Problems with obtaining steel, labor strikes and other obstacles delayed completion of the bridge, so the contractor was given a contract extension until spring 1948.