Skip to main content

M-30 temporary bridge over the Tobacco River in Gladwin County opens to traffic

Fast facts:
- MDOT opened the M-30 temporary bridge over the Tobacco River today following a complete bridge washout that occurred in May 2020.
- The temporary bridge is a 230-foot prefabricated steel structure designed to fill the open span left by the former M-30 causeway bridge.
- Following use of the temporary bridge, MDOT will store the structure for future construction and emergency events that may require a temporary structure.

March 11, 2020 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has opened the M-30 temporary bridge over the Tobacco River in Gladwin County today, following a 10-month closure of the M-30 corridor due to several locations of bridge damage following flooding and infrastructure failures in May 2020.

"Gov. Whitmer asked MDOT to prioritize restoring flood-damaged roads and bridges, and she is thrilled by the way the department and contractors responded," said State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. "Their hard work helped restore mobility for commuters and the flow of commerce across these communities."

Following the 500-year event in May, MDOT and local officials were forced to close nearly 30 roads and bridges across several counties, including two locations along the M-30 corridor in Midland and Gladwin counties. Several local roads were also closed, cutting entire communities in half and forcing commuters and local residents to follow lengthy detours.              

MDOT staff estimate damages to infrastructure from the flood are expected to exceed $100 million and to date have begun to receive installments of emergency federal funding to help offset the costs of repairs.

MDOT chose to replace the former M-30 causeway bridge with a temporary steel structure, prefabricated and assembled onsite, to help save cost and to expedite the design and construction timeline for the new bridge. While the long-term structure of the river system is not known at this time, a temporary bridge allowed MDOT to replace the missing bridge in a matter of months, avoiding the lengthy design and construction process, and eliminating months of bridge closure while crews worked on a permanent design.

The current bridge is a temporary structure intended to be in place for five to seven years and will be removed and stored when a permanent bridge is built. The 230-foot structure cost $4.5 million for the bridge components and installation. By using a temporary structure, MDOT was able to reopen the roadway less than one year following the flood damage, as opposed to the standard design and approval process, which typically runs three to five years.

For local community members, the missing M-30 causeway bridge has resulted in frustration as communities have been divided since the initial flood damage in May. For local resident Beth Kelley, the bridge closure meant a three-minute drive to visit her parents had become longer than an hour one way at the peak of road closures and detours.

"I used to be able to pop down the road to visit my parents, and for almost a year that simple trip has turned out to be really cumbersome," said Kelley. "Every road that has reopened over the last several months has helped to make that commute shorter. For them living on the north side of the bridge, even simple grocery store runs have taken twice as long, so our family is thrilled to have the road reopening and we're so thankful for all of the hard work that has happened out here and of the community for banding together in this challenging time."

In addition to the M-30 temporary bridge, MDOT has also completed extensive repairs to the US-10 bridge at Sanford Lake, the M-30 bridge over the Tittabawassee River, the Curtis Road bridge over the Tittabawassee River, and Saginaw Street in the village of Sanford.

MDOT will begin working on a permanent bridge design for M-30 over the Tobacco River in the near future and will start work to replace the M-65 structures at Big Creek and Jose Drain in Arenac County, also damaged as a result of May flooding.


MDOT crews expect this temporary structure to remain in place for a minimum of two years while permanent bridge design plans are developed.
Caption: MDOT crews expect this temporary structure to remain in place for a minimum of two years while permanent bridge design plans are developed.