Macomb bundling program paves way for bridge repair cost savings

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Nineteen local bridges in the state will receive much needed repairs starting this month through the Michigan Department of Transportation's $25 million bridge bundling pilot project.

The new project, which covers several projects under one contract, is more cost-effective because it streamlines the permitting process, officials said.

"This is the first time that MDOT is leading an initiative where we're partnering with locals to do work outside of MDOT right-of-way ...," said MDOT chief bridge engineer Matt Chynoweth. "MDOT always focuses on freeway bridges, the bridges that MDOT is responsible for.

"This is the first time that we are working with locals and designing bridges on their behalf for the benefit of the state. This pilot is going to develop all of those policies and procedures for that."

The north side of the 33 Mile Road Bridge over the North Branch of the Coon Creek in Armada Township.

A $24.3-million contract for the program was awarded last year to a joint venture of two bridge contractors, Commerce Township-based C.A. Hull and Grand Haven-based Anlaan. Alfred Benesch & Co., with offices in Michigan, was the lead design firm, officials said.

Bridge work includes fully removing and replacing the bridge deck and supporting beams. Chynoweth said that the bridges in need of repairs affect local and truck travel because of a reduced weight allowed for trucks.

"Bridges are a critical link to access emergency services," he said. "Once a bridge is posted for less than 20 tons, there's a lot of vehicles such as loaded fire trucks and buses and stuff like that, they weigh more than 20 tons." Now you're restricted from access services."

Chynoweth said an estimated 400 bridges in the state need repair. 

"From a statewide impact, yes, it's good we're getting 19 bridges off the serious and critical list, but that's only a small percentage of the total list," he said. 

The south side of the 31 Mile Rpad bridge over the Tupper Brook Drain in Ray Township.

Among the project recipients are three Macomb County bridges that will receive funding for rehabilitation and major improvements this year. The bridges are at 33 Mile over East Branch Coon Creek, 31 Mile over Tupper Brook Drain and 26 Mile over Northbound Clinton River.

The total cost for the bridge repairs ranges from $2.6 million to $2.7 million, said Bryan Santo, director of Macomb County Department of Roads.

“It’s great for the locals to be able to have a program like this to look toward getting some of our structures fixed within the county,” he said, adding that the county also has two closed bridges on the list for a second phase.

Repairs are estimated to take either 60 or 90 days.

The 19 bridges in the project are:

►Clinton County: Herbison Road started March 1; Tallman Road starts April 15

►Eaton County: Five Point Highway starts June 15

►Hillsdale County: Squawfield Road starts June 15

►Ingham County: Linn Road starts April 15; Dennis Road June 14 starts 60 days

►Lenawee County: Sand Creek Highway starts Aug. 15

►Lapeer County: Bentley Street started March 1

►Livingston County: Mason Road starts May 2; Iosco Road starts May 6

►Luce County: Dollarville Road starts Aug. 15

►Jackson County: East Washington Street started March 1

►Macomb County: 33 Mile starts Thursday; 31 Mile starts March 16; 26 Mile starts April 15

►Muskegon County: Maple Island Road starts June 15

►Ottawa County: Byron Road starts March 1

►St. Clair County: Palms Road starts March 22

►St. Joseph County: Nottawa Road starts Aug. 15

The bridges will be closed during construction, officials said, and will largely maintain their existing footprints.

MDOT said it estimates that $2 billion is needed to bring all state-owned bridges up to good or fair condition. Another $1.5 billion is needed for all local agency-owned bridges.

The agency anticipates the state can rebuild another 50 bridges in its next phase of the bridge building program, funded in 2021 when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the legislature appropriated $196 million in federal COVID relief funds for the program.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN