Arch design and engineering by William A Kibbe & Associates INC of Saginaw, Michigan. The lead architect on this project is Ivars (Buzz) Dzirnis.
Palmer Gateway Arch Project
The Palmer Foundation Gateway Arch project is reaching its final stages of construction, as Wm. Bronner and Sons prepare to install the steel structure (the arch itself) across South Gera Road or M83. The project area is located between Weiss Street and Townline Road on M83 and will be closed to through traffic Monday to Friday between September 19 and October 7. The roadway will reopen each Friday evening for weekend traffic.
To accommodate the installation of the Arch, two detour routes (one for trucks and one for cars) will be in place and active beginning on Monday morning, September 19. Detour routes will remain in place for as long as 15 working days (or three work weeks of Monday through Friday.) M83 will be open on weekends during the construction.
Businesses are open and accessible during the construction and road closure period.
About the Detour!
Truck Detour. Trucks will be directed to use Birch Run Road, Dixie Highway and Junction Road/Genesee Street for access to and through Frankenmuth. Curtis Road, between the Dixie Highway and Dehmel Road, is closed to through traffic because of construction for a bridge replacement. Trucks are directed to use this route because truck traffic is unsuitable for the designated car detour.
Car Detour. Cars are directed to follow Townline Road to Dehmel Road to Flint Street to Jefferson Street to Main Street (M83,) for access to and through Frankenmuth.
Unless otherwise noted, the detour routes will be enforced all day and night from Monday through Friday of each week (September 19-23, September 26-30 and October 3-7.) After each weekend, Bronner crews will close M83 on Monday morning between 7 and 8 AM.
Once the steel arch structure is installed and secure, Barrett Sign Company will begin installation of the decorative signage for the Arch. This work is scheduled for the weeks of September 26 to 30 and October 3 to 7. Evening openings of the roadway may happen, pending construction speed and good weather.
A Little History on the Palmer Arch Project
When Walter and Maria Palmer started the Palmer Foundation more than twenty years ago, they had a singular purpose in mind: the betterment of the Frankenmuth community. Since those early days, the Palmer Foundation has invested more than one million dollars in Frankenmuth’s quality of life through city beautification, the parks, music, the schools and Scouting. As a donor advised fund of the Frankenmuth Community Foundation, the Palmer Foundation Fund makes another major gift to the Community, the Palmer Gateway Arch.
Gateway signage such as the proposed arch is commonly used by communities across the world to represent the pride of the citizenry in their community and a promise made to visitors for what to expect when they arrive. Gateway signs add to “place-making,” a movement to create more livable communities, and celebrating the uniqueness of a community in concert with its environment, tradition and culture.
The Palmer Arch location is on M83, about half way between Townline and Weiss Roads in Frankenmuth Township. The location on M83 was selected because most traffic comes to Frankenmuth from the south. This location is the first opportunity north of Birch Run Township to announce the universal message, “Welcome to Frankenmuth.”
Because M83 is a state highway, the design needed to accommodate MDOT regulations including a minimum height over the roadway and a large span in order to place the support foundations built outside of the right of way. The east foundation will be located in an area behind the fence on Grandpa Tiny’s Farm and the west foundation behind the fence in Cross Park. The arch will be situated such that it “frames” the Silent Night Chapel at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.
The arch is constructed of two parallel steel beams connected by lacing (10” on center) Schedule 40 pipe. The steel will be finished with a properly galvanized finish (G-90 zinc coating film thickness) to provide a maintenance free finish for an estimated 50-100 years. The foundations are monolithic concrete, and customized to the actual soil bearing pressure, as tested on site. The structure will be lit with LED lighting systems that can be customized for seasonal appeal.
The Design Committee reviewed multiple concepts, preferring a classic Frankenmuth look complete with twin red towers showcasing the Frankenmuth Crest, anchored by the German word for “Welcome” or “Willkommen,” and decorative metal fretwork on the steel structure. While northbound travelers will see “Willkommen,” south bound travelers will read “Auf Weidersehn” or "Goodbye."
Funding for the Construction and Maintenance of the Palmer Gateway Arch Project
Foundation revenues from the Palmer Fund are funding 100% of the construction of the project. In addition,the Palmer Fund has set aside $250,000 toward the long-term maintenance of the Gateway Arch and towards the maintenance of Palmer-funded beautification efforts within the City. The City of Frankenmuth has agreed to be the steward of the arch, overseeing the construction and maintenance of the new structure at no cost to the local citizen.
Over time, the Palmer Fund has provided monies supporting many initiatives in the City. Special projects include City Beautification (the placement and maintenance of the Star Streamers across Main, Weiss and Genesee Streets,) scouting support and an annual contribution to maintain the Gunzenhausen Fountain. Recently, the Palmer Fund donated $25,000 to the Bronner Performing Arts Center for technological improvements at the venue. Walter and Maria Palmer were grateful to the community that welcomed them and the their business, establishing a family foundation for community projects. It was their wish that a gateway arch be constructed.
In 2015, the independent Palmer Foundation merged its funds with the Frankenmuth Community Foundation.