By Bob Mytych
Independent Special Writer
More than 70 people packed the board room at the Huron Township Hall on Sept. 20, to hear news about the closed Waltz Bridge in New Boston.
Wayne County Commissioner Al Haidous assembled the town hall meeting with Huron Township Supervisor David Glaab and Wayne County representatives. The nearby CSX train distribution company was invited but did not send any representatives.
Wayne County Department of Public Services representative Mike Gorman provided a timeline for the total replacement of the bridge, which will be completed by December 2018 at a cost of $5.4 million. The County says replacing the bridge will give it a 60-year life span, while a proposed $3.9 million repair project for the 85-year-old bridge would be considerably less in longevity. After reviewing the two options, the county decided replacement offers the longest life while being the most cost effective.
Gorman said that bridges in Michigan are inspected on a regular basis every two years and the Waltz Bridge came in at number three on the state’s list and was being inspected annually until it was shut down June 1 because it is simply unsafe.
Gorman said that over the past few months Commissioner Haidous, the county, and township officials have worked together to get the project moved to the top of the list for 2018, and the money is already in the budget for next year and will be approved next month. Gorman said that requests for proposals for new bridge designs will be sent out soon and bids will be expected to be returned in November, and by January all permits, soil samples, and Army Corps of Engineer approval should be in place to start construction in April or May of next year.
Out of 215 bridges inspected, five had to be shut down, including one in Northville.
Only a handful of people offered public comment. They said not having the bridge has a hard impact on businesses, as well as public safety.
The CSX Railroad, which has several crossings throughout the township, is an ongoing issue with long closures, some up to 45 minutes at a time. Even longer. The Township’s Public Safety dispatch had recently installed cameras at these railroad intersections so it can route police and fire response accordingly. The cameras are available to the public in an app available off the township’s website.
Supervisor Glaab said that the township administratively has sent the railroad all of the issues and problems and is expecting a response in three weeks. Supervisor Glaab said that the Township will be getting back with CSX and the township’s board meetings and website will keep the public up to date on these issues and the timeline for the bridge as the project begins. No follow-up meeting was announced for the bridge or with the railroad.
In closing comments, Supervisor Glaab asked the public to support the local businesses in town while the bridge is out, to support them like never before.
By Bob Mytych