Back when I was still working for Ford Motor Company—there’s no point in not mentioning the company by name now that I’ve been laid off for 8 months—my daily commute from Canton to Dearborn was usually via I-94. I say usually because they started a massive reconstruction project on several miles of the freeway in Taylor which included rebuilding the bridges that span Telegraph road. They were well into the rebuild when my job ended so I’ve not had much occasion to drive that stretch of freeway since except for once when going on a freelance job. During that excursion down I-94 I was shocked to see that the Telegraph road bridges had gone from your typical highway spans to these huge blue suspension bridges that really stand out. I’ve been wracking my brain ever since trying to figure out why the hell they went through all the trouble of building such ornate bridges on this particular stretch of the road. As it turns out according to this Detroit Free Press article the design of the bridges is inspired by football and was chosen because of the fact that Detroit will be hosting the 2006 Super Bowl and officials wanted the bridges to act as a symbolic gateway for folks coming to town for the game.
Speaking of the bridge artistically, Kasi said trucks represent the linemen and automobiles stand for the speedy backs and receivers. Vehicles on I-94 travel though structures, each of which is formed by two arching steel ribs held together by five oval girders shaped to resemble footballs.
As a car approaches the bridge along the freeway, the smaller ovals seem to move into the larger oval, creating the illusion of footballs in motion.
“It’s kind of like the football going through the goalposts,” Kasi said.
(Note to drivers: Let your passengers stare at the girders.)
The bridges are not just for motorists. Kasi and Darwish also designed them with nearby Detroit Metropolitan Airport in mind.
Travelers flying over the complex can look down and see the shape of a giant football that is formed by the space between the two bridges. Girders down the middle look like the stitches on a ball.
(Note to pilots: Let your passengers stare at the girders.)
“This sculpture tells you about the American passion for football and also for automobiles,” Kasi said. He added: “It’s also a time capsule” that will commemorate the 2006 Super Bowl.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not a sports fan, but it seems like this is a big waste of money especially when the article mentions that the bridges are designed to last a mere 50 years. The dual bridges cost a total of $6 million with the arches adding on another $2.2 million. Fortunately a good portion of the money for the arches was raised by Detroit Regional Gateways Advisory Council as opposed to being tax payer money, but it still seems like a silly expense given the poor condition of so many other bridges in Michigan at the moment.
Though I will admit that they do make an impressive sight.