Michigan Street Vertical Lift Bridge

City of Milwaukee | Milwaukee, WI

The Michigan Street Bridge is one of the busiest crossings over the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee, WI. The existing bridge had deteriorated and needed structural repairs to ensure proper functioning, sustainability and safety. The mechanical and electrical systems had also reached the end of their service life and had become unreliable. That, along with much-needed aesthetic updates, led the City of Milwaukee to rehabilitate the structure.

Benesch was selected to provide construction management for the rehabilitation of the bridge and served as the liaison for all involved parties. Major upgrades included replacing the open grid bridge deck with a solid surface lightweight concrete deck, replacing the mechanical and hydraulic power systems for lifting the bridge, and adding remote operation capabilities.

To mitigate impacts to the waterway and natural environment, the removal and replacement of corroded structural steel and sandblasting were successfully managed by using a large containment enclosure with a special pressure vacuum system to keep debris and material contained. Abrasive recycling was also used to prevent paint from contaminating the area or river below.

Benesch also oversaw the implementation of critical safety improvements, including gate upgrades at both ends of the structure, preventing pedestrians and vehicles from getting close to the open counterweight pit when the bridge is raised. Bridge sidewalks were also fitted with new traffic separation rails to provide an extra layer of protection between drivers and pedestrians.

This innovative structure rehabilitation project extended the life of the bridge and provides a safer crossing for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, while complimenting the area’s natural surrounding environment and waterway.

Practice Areas


  • 2023, State Finalist, American Council of Engineering Companies - Wisconsin