BY BETH GOHS, STAFF WRITER
The plan to work on cosmetic and structural elements of the US-31 bridge in Charlevoix were unveiled last night during a community informational meeting at the Charlevoix Public Library.
Matt Radulski, a construction engineer with MDOT’s Gaylord Transportation Service Center, presented the tentative plans on Tuesday Nov. 24.
“The estimated cost is approximately $1.3 million dollars for rehabilitation of the bridge,” said Radulski. “We aren’t rebuilding it. We are basically doing heavy maintenance on the bridge itself.”
Radulski said each bridge in the counties MDOT serves are checked yearly, and inspected every six years.
Work is expected to begin on Dec. 20, 2016, and end by May, 25 of 2017.
“The current project we got scheduled now, coming up in about a year or so, is electrical upgrades, motor realignment (and) we are doing some seal replacements on some dry shafts, sidewalk repairs, the concrete approaches to the bridge, some structural reconstruction underneath the bridge with concrete,” he said. “The operator house is getting some upgrades. And, we are gonna do some bridge painting.”
Detours will be necessary during April of 2017.
Radulski said the bridge will need to be in the upright position to work on the tail spans and painting the bridge—this will prevent through traffic.
“What we are going to do is, 12 consecutive nights, we are going to set up and contractors are going to be working from 12 o’clock at night to 5 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “We wanted to do the least amount of (obstruction) to the traffic so that’s why we chose in the winter, at night.”
Radulski said MDOT is working with the city, fire, EMS, and the U.S. Coast Guard during the operation.
The coast guard told MDOT the earliest they can begin work is Dec. 20, 2016, when the navigation will be closed.
“We expect project completion memorial day weekend on May 25 of 2017,” Radulski said.
Radulski mentioned that the workers would be fined if unable to open the bridge by the allotted time.
There will be roadside electronic message boards for citizens’ convenience. And, Radulski discussed leaving the message during April, that the bridge will close at 11 p.m.
“It takes a minimum of four hours to take that bridge down,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do…. We’ve been working with the hospitals and emergency management that, if something happens on one side of the bridge or the other, that there’s a place to go that minimizes the amount of travel time.”
When one of the roughly two dozen attendees asked what Charlevoix City residents were supposed to do in the event of a major emergency, Radulski said: “If something happens, it would take too long to take the bridge down to get that one person across.”