College of Engineering faculty and students work with local transportation authorities to improve campus pedestrian bridge

If you are one of the many students, staff and faculty members who utilize the pedestrian bridge over the John C. Lodge Freeway, you probably noticed a big change this semester. This summer, the bridge was inspected and repaired through the efforts of members of the Wayne State University community and the local authority from the MichiganPedestrian Bridge Before Department of Transportation (MDOT). Tapan Datta, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Jim Sears, associate vice president of facilities planning and management, spearheaded the project, mobilizing other WSU volunteers and MDOT authorities after questions were raised related to the bridge’s safety.

Datta sent a team of engineering graduate students to conduct a visual inspection of the bridge in order to expedite MDOT’s efforts. Members of Datta's team found that the issues with the bridge were superficial but still needed to be addressed. Datta explains, “Even superficial issues with a structure like a pedestrian bridge can be problematic for the public because it is all about perception. In other words, if it doesn’t look safe, people will assume it is not.”

The report from MDOT agreed with the team’s findings and recommended repairs to the bridge in advance of its Pedestrian Bridge Afterscheduled replacement in the1-94 mega project, scheduled to occur in a few years. The MDOT investigation stated, “In the interim, in order to remove trip hazards, slow the deck deterioration and drainage, the report recommends improving the concrete surface condition of the bridge.” Repairs were completed by mid-September.

This project represents an ideal situation where the public and road agencies collaborated, resulting in a timely resolution. Datta explains, “Given limited MDOT resources, continuous surveillance of highway infrastructure is difficult. It is important that the public step up to report any structure or road that looks like it might be a problem. It is precisely because the citizens and the government worked together on this project that made it such a success.” The before-and-after pictures of the bridge (above) show the difference that ordinary citizens can make.

To report on campus maintenance issues, contact the Office of Facilities Planning and Management at 313-577-4315.

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