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MDOT to Auction Mackinac Bridge Sections

Friday, November 13, 2020

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According to reports, the Michigan Department of Transportation has made five sections of original steel grating from the Mackinac Bridge available through the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

The five sections are currently up for auction on GovDeals, a liquidity services marketplace.

Bridge History

The Mackinac Bridge, also known as the Mighty Mac, is located at the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan where it opened to traffic in 1957. The structure is currently the fifth-longest suspension bridge in the world. The Mighty Mac’s total length runs 26,372 feet, with a 3,800-foot-long main span.

At the beginning of 2016, researchers based out of Michigan State University employed 20 prototype infrastructure sensors, which were powered solely by traffic vibrations. Three years later, the team added additional sensors whose data would be used to contribute to the maintenance of the Mighty Mac’s structural components.

Aaron Yoder / Getty Images

According to reports, the Michigan Department of Transportation has made five sections of original steel grating from the Mackinac Bridge available through the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

In the next phase of testing, 2,000 sensors are to be installed to investigate large-scale deployment and provide useful monitoring data to the MBA.

Also, in 2019, it was announced that for the first time in the structure’s history, the Mackinac Bridge’s towers were being stripped to bare metal and repainted.

Around August of that year, the south tower—each of which stands 552 feet tall—was stripped of its lead-based paint, commencing the second phase of the project. According to The Detroit News, the old ivory-colored paint along the top section of the tower is first to be replaced, and the lower section of the tower will get the same treatment, with completion slated for the end of 2020. The paint work, a contract valued at around $6.5 million, is expected to have a lifespan of 35 years, including periodic maintenance.

To tackle the work, a movable scaffold system was designed by Ruby+Associates of Bingham Farms, Michigan, and fabricated by Moran Iron Works of Onaway, Michigan, ultimately used by Seaway Painting of Livonia, Michigan. Ruby+Associates won the Best Neighboring State Project Award at the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois 2019 Excellence in Structural Engineering Annual Awards for the scaffolding system.

The custom-designed platforms, used in the 2017-18 work painting the north tower, can enclose and move along the bridge’s towers. Workers were able to adjust the scaffolding as needed to account for the tower’s tapering toward the top of the structure.

According to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, the award nomination necessitated that the scaffolding design needed to be able to withstand winds that often exceed 100 miles per hour, as well as capturing paint and other materials. The new coating currently being applied is zinc-based. The contract to paint the north tower was valued at a little less than $6.3 million.

Steel Grates for Sale

Currently, MDOT has made five 60-year-old identical pieces of original Mackinac Bridge steel grating from the structure’s deck available at auction on GovDeals.

Each piece of the steel grating weighs roughly two tons and measures 5.5 feet by 38 feet long, with a depth of 5 inches. According to MDOT, each piece features corrosion and section loss appropriate to steel of its age.

However, the grating was originally coated with lead-based paint. Although much of the coating system has worn off, highest bidders awarded the auctioned sections will be required to sign a “hold harmless agreement” related to the lead paint and the structural condition of the grating.

A copy of the agreement can be viewed, here.

Additionally, should awarded bidders wish to have the grated section cut into two shorter pieces for transportation purposes, the MBA has included the price of one cut in the original bid. No other cutting or manipulation of the grating will be completed by the MBA. The MBA has also noted that it is not responsible for the securing of the grates, but has agreed to assist in loading the structures for awarded bidders.

Funds generated by the sale will be used by MBA for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the Mackinac Bridge. The auction is scheduled to close on Nov. 18.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Business matters; Department of Transportation (DOT); Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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