The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has determined that the existing M-32 Spur Bridge in Hillman is functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.  The department is preparing an Environmental Assessment and Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation on a range of possible alternatives and the environmental impacts each proposal may entail. The published document, along with public commentary, will be used to select a recommended alternative and develop the basis for the issuance of a Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).


Environmental Assessment:

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a transparent process of gathering and analyzing data regarding a proposed project and the affected environment. The environment studied includes air and water quality, noise, threatened and endangered species, soils and hydrology, historic and archaeological resources; as well as the human environment. The EA will study the economic, social, and cultural make-up of the community.  It will take into account community demographics and community values and vision.


The EA process is a dialogue between MDOT and the public, local officials and state and federal agencies that tests the various alternatives against the possible impacts to determine the alternative that best meets the purpose and need of the project with the least negative consequences.   Public Involvement is essential to the MDOT decision-making process. 


Section 4(f) Evaluation:

The M-32 Spur Bridge was built in 1922 from a design by the Michigan State Highway Department, forerunner of today's MDOT.  It is 150 feet long, comprised of two 75' camelback spans. The prominent curved, or camelback, railings are integral to the structure.


According to the 1995 Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory, it was the fifth longest surviving example of a concrete camelback bridge designed by the highway department.   The concrete camelback type is unique to Michigan and Ontario and was developed by C.V. Dewart, the highway department's first professional bridge engineer. 


The bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).   Historic properties that are listed or eligible for listing on the NRHP are protected under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (1966, as amended) and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (1966, as amended).  Section 106 requires public consultation for projects using federal dollars or requiring federal permits that may adversely impact historic properties.  Section 4(f) requires that a project using federal dollars or permits must be designed to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts to historic properties while meeting the project Purpose and Need. 


Section 4(f) evaluation will also be required to determine impacts, if any, to adjacent public recreational parkland.   Because Emerick Park used federal assistance from the Land and Water Conservation Funds Act for several improvements, additional coordination with the Department of the Interior would be required if impacts are identified.


Purpose & Need:

The purpose of the proposed project is to correct operational and structural deficiencies of the existing historic bridge in order to maintain safe and efficient traffic flow in and out of Hillman. 


The need to rehabilitate, expand, or replace the bridge is driven by specific deficiencies - functional obsolescence and structural deterioration.  The existing two-lane bridge is twenty-feet wide and does not adequately accommodate wide vehicles crossing the bridge side-by-side.  Although it is still structurally sound, the reinforced concrete structure has been damaged by over eighty years of weather and wear, and by intrusion of road salt.  If structural deterioration is not corrected, vehicle weight limits may be necessary, precluding use by some vehicles.