Wayne County OKs $16.7M fix for Jefferson drawbridge

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — County officials took a big step Thursday toward getting Jefferson Avenue’s drawbridge over the Rouge River open again.

During its regular meeting Thursday, the Wayne County Commission awarded a two-year, $16.7 million contract to a Grand Haven company to repair the bridge. The vote was unanimous.

“It’s been down for over two years and it’s had a severe negative impact on that part of Wayne County,” said Commissioner Joseph Palamara, D-Grosse Ile Township.

The bridge, to the south and east of Interstate 75, is a heavily used crossing between Detroit and River Rouge. Wayne County maintains the span, which has been out of commission for more than two years.

About 2:15 a.m. on May 12, 2013, a drawbridge operator lowered its leafs onto a 670-foot-long freighter that had been cleared to pass. Police later determined the woman was drunk.

Anlaan Corp. of Grand Haven was awarded the contract, and funding for it will come from the county’s insurer. Despite a two-year contract, the county expects Anlaan to finish the project in one year. County officials said they hope work on the project will begin early next month.

In addition to the bridge contract, the commission Thursday approved Wayne County Executive Warren Evans’ appointment of Mouhanad Hammami as director of the county’s new department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness. The vote was unanimous.

Evans created the department in April by consolidating the county’s departments of Children and Family Services, Health and Human Services, and Senior and Veterans Services. He said the move will save the county $3 million a year.

Hammami will receive a base salary of $138,000 in the new post.

Officials also laid out a timeline for the 15-member body to vote on a $1.55 billion budget for 2015-16. Evans submitted the spending plan this week.

Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak, D-Dearborn, said the Ways and Means Committee will consider the proposed budget first.

Public hearings on the matter won’t likely be held until the end of the month, said Palamara, who chairs the committee.

Denis Martin, an executive board member of AFSCME Council 25 that represents 2,000 Wayne County workers, called on the commission during Thursday’s meeting to watch out for the interests of employees and retirees.

“When you review the budget, please do your due diligence,” he said. “I know we’re being threatened with a consent agreement and possibly an emergency manager, but we employees and retirees of Wayne County ask you to please look at it carefully. The concessions are very, very harmful.”

cramirez@detroitnews.com

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