Moving a 5 Million-Pound Bridge
Most bridges aren’t built offsite and then moved to where they need to be. But that’s what happened in Detroit with an unusual infrastructure project that also called for saving an iconic music recording studio.
An SPMT is a multi-axle rolling platform used to move massive objects that are too large and heavy for trucks. The Motor City’s newest bridge is nearly the size of a football field and weighs 5 million pounds. To handle the load, several SPMTs were linked together, their movements remote controlled by an operator standing nearby. A temporary surface of steel plates was laid down to protect the road beneath. With every few feet of forward progress, the SPMT would come to a halt, while two front loaders picked up the plates that had just been passed over and moved them into position in the behemoth’s path.
Built in 1954, the old Second Avenue Bridge was removed two years ago. Its replacement was constructed in a parking area adjacent to the interstate. Building offsite saved time and kept disruption of traffic to a minimum, all while improving worker safety. The new bridge was designed and engineered to eliminate the need for a center support which would have interfered with the reconfigured roadway below. The work is part of a $3 billion modernization project that will replace seven miles of freeway and rebuild more than 70 bridges.
Saving a Piece of Music History
Long before Motown Records set up shop in the Motor City, United Sound Systems Recording Studios was making records a little more than a mile away, in a house on Second Avenue. Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Bootsy Collins, Smokey Robinson, Bob Seger and Keith Richards are among the many artists who recorded at United Sound. Motown’s first hit was produced here in 1959. In recent years, the studio changed hands, closed, reopened and closed again. The historic house on Second Avenue sat shuttered, unused and largely forgotten.