A Pedestrian Bridge

This was the scene on Pontiac Drive at 7am yesterday. Tractor trailer after tractor trailer-every one filled with dirt.  Down the street from us, a bridge is under construction. The bridge will cross over 6 lanes of Telegraph road.  2 spans, totalling 315 feet.  The Clinton River trail system, built primarily over a section of railroad which was closed in 1998, is a pedestrian path friendly to bike riders, runners and walking folk, stretching from from South Lyon to Rochester.  Current users of the trail have to detour around Telegraph some 5 miles before they are able to hook up to it again on the other side. The bridge will link the Sylvan Lake portion of the trail to the Pontiac portion.  

Building the bridge will cost something over 2 million dollars; quite a project.  We have been privy to the pounding and trucking for weeks now. Needless to say, traffic on this sleepy street has been congested. I was mesmerized by the sight of all of those trucks. There s something about earth work that fascinates me.   

The project is at a stage where they need soil-and lots of it. I had to ask, and was told-each truck hauled in 44 yards of dirt.  By my estimation, close to 900 yards of soil arrived in a two hour period yesterday morning.  You can tell from the photo above the dirt was very sandy. I have no idea how it is being used-the bridge approach is off limits. 

It took about 10 minutes for each trucker to dump one load, detach the trailer, dump the next, and hook the trailer back up.  All the while, another 10 trucks were waiting in line.  One of the drivers told me that once he fires his diesel powered truck up in the morning, it stays running all day.  Apparently it is very hard on the engine to turn them on and off.  

The wheels on this bull dozer are taller than I am. The operator ran loads of dirt from the street down to the Telegraph side of the trail all day long.  When I left work at 6pm, the dozer was still running back and forth.    

I like everything assciated with the landscape, and that includes the trucks that makes the work possible.  They brought my espaliers to me, under refrigeration, from the west coast. They haul soil, plants people and machines for me.  They deliver the many pallets of soil mix that we have formulated for our container plantings.  Every container that comes from Europe is trucked to the shop for unloading.    

Each one of these trucks has 44 tires.  I cannot imagine the maintenance associated with a vehicle of this size.  No doubt this company has a full time mechanic on staff.  I have gardened in places where vehicles were not permitted.  Even the most simple job took a lot of time.  This in no small part accounts for my great admiration for people who do their own landscaping-and their own trucking.   

I have no idea how long it will be before bikers and walkers can take the bridge over Telegraph, but it seems like it will be a while yet.  I doubt I will ever ride a bike over Telegraph, but it has been an interesting experience to observe a bridge being built.


  1. Now that’s a pile of dirt! The trucks we use haul carry about 9-14 yards. 44 yds. each really puts this in perspective. Like you, I would have been chatting up the drivers with loads of questions.

  2. I’m so happy i found your site!
    I LOVE gardens too (mainly the design that goes into them)…but just don’t know how to actually go ahead and do it for myself.
    I have a very young family..so now it’s tricky finding the time…but i know you will defiantly help me with this!!
    You have the BEST job and your so talented!!!


  3. It’s fabulous that they are building that bridge. Still money allocated for public projects. That’s good.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jenn, the money allocated for this project is mostly federal stimulus money. Which means that every taxpayer has put into this project. Everyone using the Clinton River Trail has a big community of taxpayers to thank. Whenever I see a public works project come to completion, I ty to remember to say thanks to those people who made it possible. Deborah

  4. Deborah,

    I noticed this for the first time today while driving south on Telegraph. I had no idea but it’s quite exciting!

    I adore Detroit Garden Works and am hoping you’ll be having another holiday open house next month.

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