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Three bridge bundling projects wrapping up, others starting
August 15, 2022
- It was a busy weekend for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) bridge bundling pilot project, with bridges in Eaton and Hillsdale counties reopening to traffic. A Muskegon County bridge is set to open today.
- The pilot currently encompasses major improvements to 19 locally owned bridges in 2022.
- MDOT expects the bridge bundling pilot project, which covers several projects under one contract, to streamline coordination and permitting, increase economies of scale, and improve bridge conditions on local routes.
- MDOT's online dashboard at Michigan.gov/BridgeBundling allows the public to track progress on the projects.
LANSING, Mich. - This weekend saw two bridges in the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) bridge bundling pilot project reopen to traffic after major repairs, with others set to reopen this week.
The Five Point Highway bridge over the Battle Creek River in Eaton County and the Squawfield Road bridge over the east branch of the St. Joseph River in Hillsdale County reopened to traffic this weekend. The Maple Island Road bridge at Brooks Creek in Muskegon County is set to reopen today while the Linn Road bridge over Deer Creek in Ingham County is slated to be reopened later this week.
These bridges play important roles in their communities. According to Mathew Hannahs, the engineer-manager at the Eaton County Road Commission, Five Point Highway is a Class A primary county road connecting rural Barry County, the western part of Eaton County, the city of Eaton Rapids, and southern Eaton County. He said a bridge closure would affect residents and manufacturing facilities in Eaton Rapids as well as farmers in southeast Eaton County.
“The 1959 bridge over the Battle Creek River was in serious condition and had been posted for (restrictions of) heavy loads before the rebuilding project,” Hannahs said. “Normally loaded trucks have had to take a 4-mile detour north or south to get to the next appropriate route.”
The Brooks Creek bridge is just north of the Muskegon River bridge, straddling the Muskegon/Newaygo county line. Weight limit restrictions here would have imposed substantial delay costs on the heavy trucking companies that rely on this road, according to Paul Bouman, highway engineer at the Muskegon County Road Commission.
Closing the Brooks Creek bridge effectively closed the adjacent crossing of the Muskegon River, requiring long detours for commuters, commercial trucking, tourists, and nearby residents, Bouman said.
“With the nearest crossings of the Muskegon River being 7 miles to the east and 8 miles to the west, getting this bridge back in service should be a welcome relief for its daily users,” Bouman said.
Replacing the deteriorating superstructure of this bridge was of great importance to this area’s transportation network, he said.
“The old bridge’s condition was such that we would have had to soon impose weight restrictions on it,” Bouman said. “The timing of this initiative by the State of Michigan and MDOT was perfect for us in that it handily resolved a looming problem that we otherwise lacked the resources to fix. While closing the road this summer has been a hardship for those impacted, the long-term win for the public is having a reliable new structure in place and ready for many years of useful service versus what could have been a long period of time with restricted load limits and higher costs for trucking.”
Eleven local agency bridge bundling projects are now largely finished, with work on five others ongoing. Repairs at two more sites are starting today, with work on the final bridge set to begin later this month.
This year's bridge bundling pilot project, the first of its kind in Michigan, is repairing 19 bridges in serious or critical condition that are owned by local agencies. Each bridge will have its superstructure replaced, which includes full removal and replacement of the bridge deck and supporting beams.
The remaining bridges, along with scheduled start dates and contracted length of the project, are:
Livingston County: Iosco Road (Aug. 15, 60 days)
Macomb County: 26 Mile Road (Aug. 15, 90 days)
St. Joseph County: Nottawa Road (Aug. 22, 90 days)
All of the bridges encompassed by the bridge bundling program will be completed within 60 or 90 days from the start of repairs. When completed, all structures are reopened to traffic, with the exception of the Mason Road bridge in Livingston County. That bridge was completed last month but remains closed to traffic while an adjacent county road project is completed.
The pilot project is funded by federal Highway Improvement Program (HIP) dollars. MDOT bridge staff and consultants are doing preliminary design and construction administration work for the bridge bundling program.
An online dashboard at Michigan.gov/BridgeBundling provides project updates and shows percent completion, detour routes, and other information for each project.
The pilot program is only the first phase of the bridge bundling initiative. $196 million in federal COVID relief funds appropriated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature will allow the state to execute Phase II of the bridge bundling program, beginning planning and development later this year, to address 59 more bridges.
A list of the Phase II bridges, which were prioritized based on regional mobility and safety, is available here. Phase II focuses on closed and load-posted bridges. Some will be permanently removed while others will be fully replaced.
MDOT expects bridge bundling, which covers several bridge locations under one contract, to streamline coordination and permitting, increase economies of scale, and improve bridge conditions on local routes around the state. MDOT is working to expand the approach, already in use on state trunkline projects, to address locally owned bridges.