Division Ave. / Plaster Creek

Division Ave. / Plaster Creek

County: Kent

City/Township: Grand Rapids

Location: Division Ave. / Plaster Creek

Year Built: 1914

About this Bridge:
The Division Avenue Bridge is a medium-span arch bridge in the city of Grand Rapids. It spans Plaster Creek in the Comstock Park are at the south end of the city. The bridge is a 50-foot, filled spandrel arch, with earth fill and an asphalt-surfaced roadway that is flanked on both sides by concrete sidewalks. The elliptically shaped arch springs from massive concrete abutments. It features a tapered arch ring, which is cast integrally with the plain-faced concrete spandrel walls.

The Division Avenue Bridge was a heavily altered in 1935 by the addition of deep I-beam stringers on both sides. The deck was widened from its original 28-foot roadway width to its present 43-foot configuration, the original concrete guardrails were replaced with MSHD standard steel rails, and the abutments were extended to carry the new beams. These alterations have seriously diminished the structure's physical integrity.

In 1913 the Michigan State Legislature passed the State Trunk Line Act, which authorized the designation of a trunk-line network totaling nearly 3,000 miles. The act stipulated that the state highway department would design, build and maintain trunk line bridges spanning 30 feet or more, if the county or local government improved three miles of adjacent road.

Soon after its passage, a mainline route south of Grand Rapids was designated. Just south of the city the route crossed Plaster Creek on a deteriorating timber pile bridge. To entice the state highway department to build a new bridge here, the Kent County Road Commission built a three-mile stretch of the road in 1914. The department approved the bridge, turning its design over to MSHD Bridge Engineer C.V. Dewart. For the crossing, Dewart delineated this medium-span concrete arch bridge, designating it as Trunk Line Bridge No. 3. MSHD awarded the contract to build the bridge to Illinois Bridge Company of Chicago, which apparently subcontracted with Grand Rapids contractor K.S. Riser for at least part of the construction.

The Division Avenue Bridge was completed in 1914 for a cost of $6,063.09. Later incorporated into US-131, it carried mainline traffic for over 20 years before MSHD widened it in 1935. The agency later added steel beams outside of the arch's spandrel walls and re-worked abutments. Since then the Division Avenue Bridge has continued to carry heavy vehicular traffic without further alterations.