ST. CLAIR, Mich. — The St. Clair Highway bridge over the Belle River is one of three currently closed in the county because of safety concerns. Local road officials fear it may be a fate that could befall more bridges because of funding questions.
St. Clair County Road Commission officials are anticipating $39.8 million in construction needs within the next decade. The county’s primary bridges are 95 percent federally funded and make up just one-third of its total bridge count of well more than 200.
The Times Herald (http://bwne.ws/2c9wbux ) reports that the commission takes in an average of $1.5 million a year in federal funding, but would require just under $4 million without state and federal funding.
The St. Clair Highway bridge has been closed for about a month, said road commission managing director Kirk Weston. The bridge on Dunning Road over a south branch of the Pine River in Wales Township was closed more recently, and the one on Jeddo Road over Mill Creek was closed last spring.
Weston said keeping them open wasn’t worth the safety risks.
“We’re looking at ways to fund at least one of those three right now, and get that posting off,” Weston said.
Other critical bridges on the county priority list include structures on Meisner, Palms and King roads, and three on the Marine City Highway over the Teltow, Meldrum and Casco drains.
County highway and bridge engineer Mike Clark said the county inspects its bridges every other year, but critical ones are checked as often as every three months. Clark said, with the county’s existing budget and federal aid, “There’s just not enough there to take care of the need.”
Clark said funding for bridge construction projects are applied for three years in advance, and that aid is divvied up based on region. He sits on the metro regional bridge council, which helps make those decisions locally.
The council next meets Sept. 28. Being considered for 2019 is more than $32 million worth of bridge projects in Wayne, St. Clair, Macomb and Oakland counties. The three-year average funding amount for the region is $8.35 million, leaving a $32.1 million of unfunded need.
Information from: Times Herald, http://www.thetimesherald.com