City Prepares To Tackle Four Major Bridge Projects
June 27, 2017
Four Traverse City bridges will either be completely replaced or majorly rehabilitated as part of an infrastructure project with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) over the next year. Traverse City commissioners received a detailed update on the project Monday from City Engineer Tim Lodge, who outlined individual design plans and costs for upgrading the West Front, Eighth, South Cass and Park Street bridges.
West Front Street Bridge – $1.1 Million
The most intensive of the four projects calls for completely replacing the West Front Street bridge over the Boardman River near the intersection of Hall Street (pictured). “This is the only bridge (where) everything’s going to be replaced,” Lodge told commissioners. “We’re taking the bridge all the way down through the foundations.”
The new bridge will consist of a concrete deck on concrete box beams with an aesthetic treatment to resemble an arch shape. Exposed portions of the concrete will have a colored, textured pattern similar to the pedestrian bridge over the Boardman River near Oryana. While the bridge span will lengthen from 58 feet to 65 feet, the width will stay within Front Street’s existing 66-foot right-of-way. That will provide room on the bridge for two traffic lanes, two bike lanes – one going in either direction – and parking lanes with widened sidewalks, Lodge said.
The new bridge will “extend traditional downtown streetscape elements to Hall Street,” according to Lodge, including pedestrian-scale lighting and a mid-block crosswalk on the bridge’s eastern side. Plans also call for crash-tested bridge railings and a pedestrian railing leading to the bridge, eliminating the existing guardrail. Watermain extensions, stormwater system improvements and contaminated soil removal are also included in the project.
As is the case with the other three bridge projects, 95 percent of the project costs for West Front will be covered through the MDOT Local Bridge Program, which awarded $1.1 million to the project. The city is required to contribute a five percent match to those funds and cover all engineering costs for the project. The West Front bridge, which was built in 1904, has been flagged for structural and design obsolescence issues.
Eighth Street Bridge – $750,000
Repairs for the Eighth Street bridge – located near the intersection of Boardman Avenue – include replacing the bridge deck but keeping the existing foundations, making it a rehabilitation project. “It’s going to give a more open feeling than what we have today,” Lodge said of the design, which reflects the new community-created plan for Eighth Street by providing bridge space for three travel lanes, widened sidewalks and cycle track.
The project also calls for adding pedestrian-scale lighting at street-level and lighting beneath the bridge on the riverfront public path, which will be raised to a higher level. Mayor Jim Carruthers asked if that would address frequent flooding issues on the pathway under the bridge. “It won’t entirely eliminate it under certain conditions, but I’m going to tell you that it will be very unlikely that it will be underwater,” replied Lodge. The city engineer said staff were also looking at adding more stairs from the street to the river on the bridge’s north side and working with property owners on the south side to enhance river access.
South Cass Street Bridge – $850,000
“This is our bridge that we really don’t want to mess with too much,” Lodge said of the South Cass bridge near Hagerty. “It’s eligible to be on the state historic register…we’re trying to get it back to what it was in 1929.” Calling the project “a restoration,” Lodge said work would mainly focus on rehabilitating the bridge’s concrete sidewalks and its decorative balustrade railings.
Project plans also call for repairing the earth-filled concrete arch, extending downtown streetscape improvements through the bridge, and potentially removing overhead lines. While plans call for two travel lanes, shoulder and sidewalks, Lodge said the design offered “some flexibility” to possibly offer on-bridge parking if the city wanted to pursue that.
Park Street Bridge – $850,000
As with Eighth Street, the Park Street bridge – located between Front Street and Grandview Parkway – is set to have its deck replaced atop its existing foundations. The bridge width will allow for three travel lanes and wider sidewalks. Commissioners expressed concerns about the existing sidewalk height relative to the road, which Lodge said would be addressed during the project by lowering the sidewalk. Commissioners also commented on the confusing nature of vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic patterns between downtown and Clinch Park beach on Park Street. “It just has no flow right now,” Commissioner Gary Howe said, calling Park Street “dangerous” during peak traffic seasons.
“It will have a better flow (when it’s repaired), because we’re going to retool that parking lot entrance,” said Lodge. “It’ll have more of a connected feel when we’re done.”
Lodge said Traverse City was partnering with MDOT to combine all four bridge projects into one bid package, which could save an estimated 25-30 percent in costs. Lodge noted plans call for pairing construction on one east-west and one north-south bridge at the same time. “We wouldn’t allow them to work on, say, the Eighth Street bridge and the Front Street bridge at the same time, but we would allow them to work on, say, the Eighth Street bridge and the Park Street bridge at the same time,” Lodge said.
While city staff's goal was to start the projects as soon as possible this year, permit delays could realistically push construction to 2018. Lodge said the city’s request for an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the West Front Street bridge has been delayed due to concerns from the State Historic Preservation Office about the bridge’s removal. Crews are prohibited from working in the Boardman River between November 15 and March 15, so the city is on a tight timeline to resolve the permitting issues, start construction and finish water work by the fall deadline this year. Lodge said the city could either appeal to be able to work in the river inside the restricted timeframe or else push the bridge repairs back to next year.
“Maybe we start with the Eighth Street bridge in the spring of 2018 and then work on this Front Street bridge in the fall,” Lodge said. “I’m still trying to figure that out.”Comment