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Cass Road Bridge

November 11, 2016

Project: Cass Road Bridge
Challenge: Performing 22,000 cubic yards of excavation in a swampland area with a high water table; detouring traffic for five long months; making the public understand why we were building a bridge in an area with no water
Solution: Collaborating closely with Davis Construction and our fellow subcontractors; coordinating with Grand Traverse County to understand what will happen when the existing bridge/dam is removed; communicating the specifics of the project to the public

Owner: Grand Traverse County Road Commission
Contract Amount: $474,651.25
Design Engineer: Jim Johnson, P.E.
Location: Cass Road over Boardman River, Traverse City, MI
Date Started: March 24, 2016
Date Completed: November 11, 2016
Self-Performed: Subcontractor (to Davis Construction)
Partners: Davis Construction, Martin J. Concrete, Dale Dukes and Sons

For years, residents of Traverse City have awaited the replacement of the Cass Road Bridge. The bridge is one of the only ways to get to the other side of the Boardman River in that part of town, but it is also far from convenient. A one-way road over a dam, the existing bridge can create bottlenecks or queues of cars depending on the time of day. When Grand Traverse County decided to remove the dam in 2007, the plan carried the promise of faster traffic movement on Cass Road and across the Boardman River. Still, it would take nearly a decade for a new bridge to come to fruition.

When the project for the new bridge finally moved forward, Team Elmer’s got the opportunity to play a part in its construction. Working as a subcontractor for Davis Construction—the general contractor overseeing the project—we helped with the excavation, concrete pouring, road work, and paving of the new bridge deck.

The project was slow going, to say the least. It was all the way back in 2012 when Team Elmer’s first –applied for a bridge grant for the job. The actual bridge excavation and construction, meanwhile, didn’t break ground until 2016. When the project did begin, it required closing Cass Road and detouring traffic for a lengthy five months.

Needless to say, crews from Team Elmer’s—along with our numerous partners for the project—were under pressure to get the job done without delays. That was no easy task, since we had to coordinate with Grand Traverse County as they planned for the eventual removal of the existing one-way bridge and dam on Cass Road. With a deadline looming for the bridge grant funds that Team Elmer’s received in 2012, we had to go ahead with the bridge project before the county got around to removing the old dam and creating a new river channel.

The bridge work involved 15 concrete and steel deck beams, all under six feet tall with 7,000 PSH for 28-day strength. The largest beams spanned 134.5 feet long. The beams were so sizable that US-31 had to be temporarily shut down to allow transportation of the materials to the worksite. Once the beams were in place, Team Elmer’s took the lead in the next stage of the project, bringing in 350 yards of MDOT D mix concrete for the bridge deck. In addition to pouring concrete, our teams also excavated the former road bed, put new storm sewers in place, handled grading, graveling, and earthwork for the road, and paved the roadway and bridge.

Because we ended up needing to build the new bridge before Grand Traverse County removed the old dam, our bridge had no water underneath it when the project was completed. Still, once the old dam and bridge are gone, drivers will notice not only a new river channel beneath the bridge, but also a significant improvement in traffic speed on Cass Road. The old one-lane bridge conveyed an estimated 5,500 cars per day. The new two-lane bridge will be able to accommodate 15,000 cars per day—a massive 272% increase.


By the Numbers

  • 350 yds of Specification MDOT D-Mix Concrete
  • 6 Different types of Sonte/Gravel
  • 4,715 tons of aggregate
  • 2 different sand types = 2,124 tons
  • Foundation Excavation 19,850 cyds
  • 869 tons of crushed concrete road gravel
  • 184 ft of sewer
  • 1,796 ft of erosion control silt fence
  • 377 ft trench dewatering system
  • 1,739 tons of 21AA natural stone

Click here to view the full PDF for "Cass Road Bridge"


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