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Pilot program will rebuild 19 bridges across Michigan

Sandy Millar

Spring is coming and with it, is Michigan’s construction season. An initial round of 19 bridges across the state will be rebuilt as part of a pilot program by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Rebecca Curtis, the deputy chief bridge engineer at MDOT, says the project will focus on bridges in serious disrepair.

Rebecca Curtis is a white woman with hazel eyes and brown hair. She is wearing a black business jacket with a flowery top. Curtis is MDOT's Deputy Chief Bridge Engineer.
Sara J. Martin
MDOT Deputy Chief Bridge Engineer Rebecca Curtis.

"There might be a low posting limit, which might restrict agricultural or manufacturing goods. There could be lanes that are taken in order to, you know, move traffic off of a very deteriorated part of the bridge," Curtis said. "These bridges could be one or two inspections away from being closed. So these are all things that impact people's ability to get from point A to point B."

The $24 million dollar project includes structures in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties.

In a press release, MDOT Chief Bridge Engineer Matt Chynoweth said the scope of the work beginning in March is superstructure replacement, which includes removing and replacing a bridge's deck and supporting beams.

"The contract requirements call for them to be finished in 60 or 90 days," Chynoweth added in the release.

The pilot program seeks to help local agencies streamline the cost and the coordination of repairs. Curtis says often times, local communities don't have the capacity to do major repairs to infrastructure in the way the state's department of transportation does.

"When the local agencies are faced with this very large population of bridges in serious and critical condition, they're forced to do more replacement projects than are ideal," she said. "And that actually increases our long term costs of maintaining all of our local agency bridges in the state"

The state legislature has already set aside $196 million dollars for the next phase of bridge rebuilding.

"We've been working with our local agency partners to come up with a list of bridges that could be worked on with that amount of funding. And we are excited to make another little dent in the backlog of bridge needs that we have," Curtis said.

To track the status of a bridge's construction, head to www.michigan.gov/bridgebundling.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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