The impromptu quote, "Fix the Damn Bridge," was a mid-2010s rallying cry referring to the West Jefferson Avenue drawbridge which links the Downriver community of River Rouge with the Delray section of neighboring Detroit. The bridge was active from the early 1900s until operator error caused an accident at the site in 2013 which disabled the structure until it reopened in August 2016.
Three historic drawbridges have lined the Rouge River since the early 1900s, with locations on Dix Highway and Fort Street in Detroit, plus the Jefferson Avenue bridge on the northern border of River Rouge.
Despite age becoming a factor in the operation and general maintenance of this drawbridge, it was not seen as a problem until May 2013, when an accident would disable the drawbridge in an incident that could easily have been avoided with a more alert person staffing the bridge that day.
Having lifted the bridge for a passing cargo ship, the operator (later found to be under the influence of substances) inadvertently lowered the drawbridge right onto the passing freighter. This caused significant structural damage to one of the main components of the bridge, bending beams to the point the structure was considered defective and unsafe, and was subsequently closed. It was the first major bridge accident (not including multiple collisions at the former King Road overpass on Interstate 75) since the second crash at the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge in 1992.
It was thought the repair job on this structure would be rather quick and routine, but this would prove to be a gross miscalculation. In 2015, WJBK reported the business district on Jefferson north of Coolidge Highway as being in dire shape, with some businesses north of Coolidge suffering an 80% drop in year-to-year business due to the lack of customers coming from the Delray area. Various remaining shops still displayed orange signs on their storefronts proclaiming, "Fix The Damn Bridge."
By this time, Wayne County had set various dates for repair/reconstruction of the bridge, but to this date, no work has been completed. Combined with the nearly two-and-a-half-year reconstruction of the drawbridge spanning Fort Street near Oakwood Boulevard which started shortly after the Jefferson bridge accident, plus brief closures of the Dix bridge, I-75 was left as the only logical transportation route into the city of Detroit from Downriver.
The problems with access from Downriver to Southwest (and southern) Detroit and points north was eased somewhat on New Year's Eve 2015 when the Fort Street bridge was finally reopened to traffic after it was concurrently closed for over two years for a reconditioning. Work soon resumed on rebuilding the damaged half of the Jefferson Avenue drawbridge, and in August 2016, it reopened to traffic under major fanfare.