‘It’s just a disaster waiting to happen’: MDOT to review pedestrian bridges in Detroit

Man fell through Detroit pedestrian bridge after concrete gave way

It was in such bad shape as a man fell through the Pedestrian Bridge in Detroit when the concrete gave way. The bride is now boarded up and closed for repairs. Local 4 has been working on getting answers on how this could have happened in the first place, and Wednesday (May 18) night, we learned because of the incident, MDOT is going to be taking a closer look at all 61 pedestrian bridges throughout the City of Detroit.

DETROIT – A pedestrian bridge in Detroit was in such bad shape, the concrete gave way and a man fell through it as he walked across it earlier this week.

The Spruce Street Bridge, which crosses the Lodge Freeway, is boarded up and closed for repairs after Ely Hydes fell through it on Monday.

Because of the incident, the Michigan Department of Transportation says it is going to take a closer look at all 61 pedestrian bridges throughout the city of Detroit.

“It’s just a disaster waiting to happen,” Hydes said of the Spruce Street Bridge. “If they’re inspecting it at all, it’s superficial, because if you look underneath the bridge, it’s decades of erosion, exposed rebar.”

Read: ‘My whole torso is a huge bruise’: Man falls through pedestrian bridge in Detroit

Hydes has a lot of questions still. Local spoke to Todd Scott, the executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition, for some insight as the coalition works to make the city a safer place to walk and bike.

“I was shocked because we’ve never seen that before where the bridge has failed in that manner,” Scott said.

Scott says he notified MDOT of the issues with this same bridge last fall.

“There were trip hazards on the bridge where there were volts exposed, and there were some old wood on the bridge,” Scott said.

MDOT says it came out and patched a small hole on the other end of the Spruce Street Bridge, which is only one of 61 pedestrian bridges throughout the city.

Local 4 asked for more about their inspection process, and MDOT said that the age of the structure determines how often it gets inspected. Newer bridges may get a good look over every five years.

But at 71 years old, MDOT tells us that the Spruce Street Bridge was on a once-a-year inspection plan, and due for an inspection at the end of this month.

“Sometimes it feels like the big bridges that carry cars get more priority than the pedestrian bridges, and the pedestrian bridges don’t get maintained as well and over time get less and less safe to use, and eventually they get closed,” Scott said.

Scott says many people are using that bridge, and he hopes the necessary repairs can be made to make it safe, because the alternatives for walkers and bikers in the area aren’t great for folks using this bridge to get downtown.

MDOT is hoping to have an inspection done by the end of the week, where they will determine just how much of it needs to be rebuilt.

There is no timeline on when these other precautionary inspections will occur in light of the hazardous situation here.

About the Authors:

Pamela Osborne is thrilled to be back home at the station she grew up watching! You can watch her on Local 4 News Sundays and weeknights. Pamela joined the WDIV News Team in February 2022, after working at stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.