The I-96 and I-75 interchanges cut a huge rift through southwestern Detroit in an area known as 'Mexican Town', but now a newly built pedestrian bridge is re-unifying the community and providing safe access across the highways. The Bagley Pedestrian Bridge, designed by inFORM studio, is part of a larger scheme to improve vehicular and pedestrian traffic at the US/Canadian border in Detroit. With a large mast-like tower held in place by steel cables, the bridge is a landmark for the area that literally and symbolically bridges the gap in the community. LED lighting illuminates the concrete bridge at night and new public spaces provide places for leisure and recreation.
In the 1960’s a giant chasm in the middle of Mexican Town was cut to make way for I-96 and I-75, as part of an effort to ease congestion on the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor in Canada. While a benefit to traffic, the new multi-lane highway put a huge rift in the community, basically creating an impenetrable wall between the two sides. In the 1990s a new effort began to bridge the gap and improve access in the area, as well as to the border crossing. inFORM studio won the design competition in 1998 with their proposal for a concrete and steel cable bridge on Bagley Avenue, which is located the heart of Mexican Town. The street is defined by a restaurant district, retail, a youth center and a variety of cultural enterprises and a number of important landmarks are located nearby.
inFORM’s bridge shoots right off Bagely Avenue and up and over the expanse of highway lanes, leading to the other side where pedestrians can more easily access the official border crossing. In a way, the bridge also serves as the gateway into the US with its prominent form, large mast and supportive steel cables. Built from concrete, the bridge itself provide critical pedestrian access within the community as well as recreational and leisure opportunities. Multiple ‘lanes’ are provided for walkers, runners and bikers, and they have been designed appropriately for their different travel speeds. Numerous works of public art decorate the bridge and entrance apron, while a series of LED lights illuminate the bridge at night.
Images ©James Haefner Photography