In the early 20th century, Edward W. Voigt hoped to make traveling to and from Grosse Ile accessible by automobile at the island’s north end. Mr. Voigt incorporated the Grosse Ile Bridge Company (GIBC) and garnered the support of the local population to bring his vision to life. The Grosse Ile Toll Bridge opened for traffic on November 27, 1913. The bridge spans 995 feet over the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River, connecting Grosse Ile Township to Riverview, Michigan. The bridge consists of four camelback truss spans, flanking a camelback truss swing span at the center pier. The four truss spans bear on concrete abutments and piers, while the center truss bears on a pivot pier.

Today, Paul Smoke, the great-grandson of Mr. Voigt, owns the Grosse Ile Bridge Company. Through an active and thorough maintenance program, GIBC has kept the bridge in excellent condition despite two freighter accidents in 1965 and 1992, each of which caused significant damage to main components of the bridge.

After celebrating the bridge’s centennial, GIBC retained SME to perform a detailed condition assessment of the concrete substructure elements in 2014. SME conducted a visual review and sounding survey, as well as destructive and non-destructive testing of the concrete substructure elements. The nondestructive testing consisted of Impulse Penetrating Radar (IPR), Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity (UPV), and Spectral Analysis of Surface Waves (SASW) testing. SME also extracted concrete cores from the cracked and delaminated areas to determine the extent of the concrete deterioration. SME presented these assessment findings to GIBC in a detailed engineering report, which included conceptual repair options with cost estimates, as well as specifications for the restoration of the concrete substructure elements. 

SME completed restoration drawings and specifications, providing GIBC with a construction bid package within a short timeframe of about one month from the time of hire. SME assisted GIBC in performing a bid review during bid assessment and selection.

The restoration program consisted of the selective removal of distressed concrete areas, installation of additional reinforcing bars, and application of repair concrete materials, as well as routing and sealing of cracks. Distressed concrete removal, surface preparation and application of concrete repair materials were specified according to the current American Concrete Institute (ACI) Repair Guide, ACI 546R-14, and the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) Repair Guideline, Guideline No. 310.1R-08. Additionally, to provide long-term service life, protect the substructure restoration investment, and provide uniform appearance of the concrete substructure elements, the concrete surfaces were sealed with a coat of penetrating water-repellent sealer and two coats of an acrylic breathable waterproof coating. 

GIBC secured a contract with RAM Construction for the substructure restoration work RAM had completed the restoration work during the summer of 2015, within a short, three-month time frame. Fees for the restoration work remained within the estimated construction budget SME had provided to GIBC.