Blue Water Bridge: Wikis


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Blue Water Bridge
Blue Water Bridge, newer bridge in foreground
Carries 6 lanes of I-69/I-94 and Highway 402 (westbound span, 3 lanes; eastbound span, 3 lanes)
Crosses St. Clair River
Locale Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario
Maintained by MDOT and Blue Water Bridge Authority
Design Cantilever truss (westbound)
Continuous tied arch (eastbound)
Total length 6,178 feet (1,883 m) (westbound)
6,109 feet (1,862 m) (eastbound)
Width 38 feet (12 m) (westbound)
51 feet (16 m) (eastbound)
Height 210 feet (64 m) (westbound)
233 feet (71 m) (eastbound)
Longest span 871 feet (265 m) (westbound)
922 feet (281 m) (eastbound)
Clearance below 152 feet (46 m) (westbound)
155 feet (47 m) (eastbound)
AADT 14,000
Opened October 10, 1938 (westbound)
July 22, 1997 (eastbound)
Toll Cars:
USD$2.75 (westbound)

USD$1.50 (eastbound)
CAD$2.00 (eastbound)
Coordinates 42°59′55″N 82°25′25″W / 42.99869°N -82.42351°E / 42.99869; -82.42351Coordinates: 42°59′55″N 82°25′25″W / 42.99869°N -82.42351°E / 42.99869; -82.42351

The Blue Water Bridge is a twin-span international bridge spanning the St. Clair River that links Port Huron, Michigan, USA to Sarnia, Ontario. The Blue Water Bridge connects with Highway 402 in Ontario and with both Interstate 69 and Interstate 94 in Michigan. The original span is a cantilever truss bridge and the second span is a continuous tied-arch bridge.

The first bridge is a cantilever truss with a total length of 6,178 feet (1,883 m). The main span is 871 feet (265 m). The second bridge is a continuous tied arch with a total length of 6,109 feet (1,862 m). The main span is 922 feet (281 m).

Together, the two bridges are one of the busiest transportation arteries between the United States and Canada, the second-busiest crossing after the Ambassador Bridge at Detroit-Windsor. They also provide one of the four shortest routes of land travel between the eastern seaboard of the United States, and the central United States. The Blue Water Bridges are jointly owned and maintained by Canada and the United States. The Blue Water Bridge Authority is in charge of the Canadian side, and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is in charge of the U.S. side. The bridges charge a toll, which is used to pay for bridge maintenance and operations.



The first bridge was opened to traffic on October 10, 1938. The lead engineer was Ralph Modjeski. This bridge originally had two lanes for vehicles as well as sidewalks; the latter were removed in the 1980s to make room for a third lane for automobiles. The third lane for each direction started from the apex of the bridge in order to accommodate long lineups entering each sides' respective border crossings.

Traffic volumes steadily increased, spurred by the completion of Highway 402 in 1982 which provided a continuous freeway link to 401. As a precursor to the upcoming twinning project, the customs and toll collection booths on both sides were extensively reconfigured in the early 1990s. On the American side, the I-beam girder overpass was replaced by a much wider embankment, which also added a four-story customs office building in the center. On the Canadian side this necessitated the demolition of the original booths that had been in use since 1938; these booths were noted for their Art Deco style but they were too low to accommodate semi-trailer trucks which had been directed to the outside.

In the early 1990s, bridge authorities decided to add a second arch in order to accommodate the high traffic. During the debate over the form of the second span, five possible designs were purposed from 1994–1995. Over half of public opinion had mostly favored a duplicate of the first bridge, while the cable-stayed bridge came in second with around 21%. The Blue Water Bridge Authority had rejected both designs, due to the duplicate creating a false sense of history, while the cable-stayed option was feared to overshadow the existing bridge. Another cost-effective but unpopular design was the parallel truss. The continuous-tied arch design, which was a distant third place in polls, was chosen for two reasons. One was that it blends in with the original span yet stands out on its own, and the other is lower maintenance costs because fewer spans are involved.

The twinning project was a combined effort between Modjeski & Masters (American engineers) and Buckland & Taylor Ltd. (Canadian engineers). During the construction, two temporary masts were erected to assist in the construction of the tied arch; the towers were painted red and lighted, enabling them to be seen from afar. The approaches to the new bridge use box girders, compared to the original which hold up the road deck with trusses.

The second three-lane bridge, just south of the first bridge, opened on July 22, 1997. The first bridge was immediately closed for extensive renovation, and reopened in 1999. During this period, the new span used a three-lane configuration reminiscent of the one employed on the original bridge. A flyover ramp on the U.S. side temporarily diverted westbound traffic from the new bridge to the toll plaza, which was blocked off after the original bridge was rehabilitated.

A panoramic picture of a truss bridge in the distance, spanning a river; in the foreground, waterfront parkland.
The Blue Water Bridge, viewed from the Michigan shore of the St. Clair River

In March 2009, the Canadian government announced that CA$13.5 million (US$10.8 million) in funding would be allocated toward upgrading the border crossing facilities at the Blue Water Bridge. The work was scheduled to begin in May 2009.[1]

Depiction in popular culture

The Blue Water Bridge was featured in the Kim Basinger movie Bless the Child (2000), where it represented a New York City bridge. It is also featured in the Danny DeVito movie Renaissance Man (1994), directed by Penny Marshall.



External links

Aerial views of the Blue Water Bridge

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