The twin tied-arch steel spans, designed by Chicago-based Alfred Benesch & Co. last year, feature two large blue ovals augmented with more ovals that are supposed to evoke footballs. The exterior arch lengths are 355 ft, while the interior arches are 305 ft. The arches reach 70 ft above Interstate 94 and 87 ft above Telegraph Road, which runs under I-94 in the city of Taylor.

Arched. Steel beams in football-shaped arches for Detroit bridge are for image enhancement.

The design for the 240-ft long Gateway Bridge cost $2 million more than a conventional plate-girder bridge, causing some public controversy. The funds for the design were raised by economic development groups.

"We were told this had to be done before the 2006 Super Bowl," says Muthiah Kasi, Benesch chief operating officer. "It’s nice to have a signature bridge...that would give Detroit some attention."

The bridge is part of a larger $55-million project to improve I-94 between Detroit Airport and downtown. This included a complete reconstruction of a three-mile stretch, repaving and improving signage and ramps.

Each span contains 1.4 million lb of steel, according to MDOT. The steel has three coats of blue paint and one clear coat to prevent fading. The beams, fabricated by PDM Bridge in Eau Claire, Wis., had to be brought in by trucks that detoured around Chicago.

The study in ovals caused some head- scratching. "It’s new to us," says Joe Mallacore, president of Wall Lake, Mich.-based C.A. Hull Co., the bridge subcontractor. MDOT allowed for the contrac-

tor to submit an alternate erection procedure, he says. "We changed their sequence to pour the concrete deck with the hanger cables carrying the load, instead of under-bridge shoring carrying the load." The arch sections, as heavy as 142,000 lb, were lifted and twisted into place at 60° angles.

(Photos courtesy of Benesch Co.)

ichigan officials are hoping a nearly completed $14-million bridge will brighten tourists’ impressions of Detroit as they travel from the airport to Super Bowl XL in February.