Grosse Ile Parkway Bridge deemed safe despite evidence of deterioration

Posted at 11:35 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 23:35:21-05

GROSSE ILE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Grosse Ile residents were told Monday that the Parkway Bridge is safe enough to stay open even with evidence of significant deterioration.

More than 10,000 people depend on the bridge to work and get home. In 2020, it was shut down for 18 months for emergency repairs.

A detailed study conducted by an engineering firm shows much work is needed to keep the bridge operational.

In 2020, contractors had to be rushed off the bridge while they were repairing the top of it because emergency work needed to be done on the foundation. It closed the bridge down for 18 months and the only other way off is a toll bridge nearly four miles away.

"Do you leave this meeting feeling any more confident about the safety of that bridge?" 7 Action News asked Thomas hill.

"Not really," Hill said.

Hill lives in nearby Trenton. He drives one of the 16,000 vehicles that cross the Parkway Bridge daily.

"We live here, it's 10,000 people. We all use this bridge. We all need this bridge," Kathy Walker said.

7 Investigators were the first to discover Wayne County's failure to conduct the required underwater inspections of the bridge between 2007 and 2017.

An outside engineering firm hired to review current inspections says the top half of the bridge is in fair condition and the underwater part is worse off.


"This bridge itself is rated a 4 poor condition and a 5 fair condition. And as far as the traveling public, it is not ideal, but I don't see it as a safety concern," said Clifford Elling, an engineer with the Mannik & Smith Group.

Presenters from the engineer group based their findings on existing documents and reports. They did not conduct their own inspection.

"Wouldn't this make more sense to have a meeting not with the engineers who wrote the report?" Hill said. "Wouldn't it make more sense to talk to the people that did the inspection?"

Ron Janowski told us what he took out of Monday’s presentation.

"Well, we talked about the super structure, which is above the water. What is most important is the structure it sits on, which is underwater," Janowski said.

VIDEOS: Underwater inspections of Grosse Ile Parkway Bridge show deterioration in some piers

The foundation is the largest area of concern, according to engineers, and will need to be monitored at increased frequency.

Residents wanted to know with repairs, what is the bridge's life expectancy? Engineers said that's hard to answer because the situation is fluid.

“They did two significant repairs and it improved the condition of the bridge, but you can't stop there, you have to keep going (with maintenance). I mean, it's not easy answer," said Chris Zangara Engineer with the Mannik & Smith Group.

The top part or the superstructure, which is in fair condition, will now be inspected every 12 months. Normally, the cycle would be 24 months.

The underwater part will be inspected ever 24 months. The normal cycle is 60 months.

"They are keeping a close eye," Zangara said.

Hill and others were disappointed Wayne County officials were not there to take questions.

"Wayne County owns the bridge. They need to be brought here and put on the spot," Hill said. "What are you going to do about it?"

Wayne County did say they plan to hold a question-and-answer session with residents in 2023.