The Cities of Douglas and Saugatuck have joint ownership of the Blue Star Highway Bridge over the Kalamazoo River that connects the communities. However, the structure was facing deterioration so severe loads had to be restricted, impacting local and regional commerce. The repairs required were extensive and complicated enough that even the two cities together couldn’t afford the necessary improvements.
Douglas and Saugatuck hired F&V to perform a study of the structure, identify improvements and help the cities obtain funding through the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Local Agency Bridge Program to fix the bridge. Once funding was secured, F&V provided surveying, design and construction engineering to implement the improvements project. Work involved pier improvements, joint replacement, channel improvements, decorative lighting, approach reconstruction and related work and coordination with multiple state and federal agencies.
To keep disruption to residents and businesses at a minimum, improvements were made during the winter months and not during the busy summer tourist season. The bridge was maintained open to traffic throughout the project by using part width construction techniques and temporary traffic signals. The construction was further complicated by installing additional substructure support through and beneath the existing superstructure, which was maintained intact. The MDOT Local Agency Bridge Program covered 95% of the construction costs on the project, making the improvements affordable and restoring the vital link between the communities.