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Alden Highway

Traverse City, Michigan

Bridge Replacement

Installation:

September 2021

Technical Description:

• Aluminum Structural Plate
• Span: 18-ft. 8-in.
• Rise: 11-ft. 8-in.
• Length: 76.5 ft.

During two days of severe thunderstorms in Antrim County, Michigan, a large section of Alden Highway collapsed when the culvert at Finch Creek failed due to the extremely high runoff. A firetruck had driven over the highway just 10 minutes earlier and was on its way back to the station when the truck hit a pothole, breaking an axle and the highway began cracking. Luckily, the emergency guardrail kept the firetruck from falling over the edge, and the two firemen were able to escape with only minor injuries. 

“If it hadn't been for that guardrail, the truck probably would have flipped over into the ditch,” observed South Torch Lake Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Fabiano. 

Alden Highway is a critical primary roadway connecting cities to the south end of Torch Lake, a popular summer destination for tourists, so it was imperative the repairs were executed as quickly as possible. The day after the structure failed, Antrim County's Road Engineer contacted Contech Engineered Solutions to review options. After discussing the requirements such as construction costs and the best way to maintain the stream's flow during construction, it was decided that an 18'-8" span x 11'-8' rise Aluminum Structure Plate, 76.5' in length, was the best replacement option.

The bridge design was finalized and approved by the county in less than a week, and the new structure was delivered to the site four weeks later. The structure was assembled on-site in just two days by the Antrim County Road Commission and was ready for installation. After going so smoothly, the project unfortunately hit its biggest challenge when the large pumps rented to control the water flow while the structure was being installed failed multiple times The mechanical failures caused the project and subsequent highway re-opening to be delayed by three weeks.     

In the end, the Aluminum Structural Plate was a great solution for the site, and Antrim County was pleased with the outcome.

“When the original culvert failed in mid-August, my greatest concern was how to re-open the road before the end of October," added Burt Thompson, Engineer-Manager of Antrim County Road Commission. "This is a primary route in the county and an extended closure over the winter would have been a disaster. Contech committed to providing a new structure within four weeks and then worked with my crew to get it assembled and placed. We were able to get the new structure backfilled, guardrail placed and asphalt road installed just before the first snowfall. We were extremely satisfied with the results and the entire process.” 

Technical Description:

• Aluminum Structural Plate
• Span: 18-ft. 8-in.
• Rise: 11-ft. 8-in.
• Length: 76.5 ft.

800-338-1122 | www.ContechES.com

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