By Rosemary K. Otzman
If Van Buren Township could get its hands on a grant with lots of money, a $1 million water project could turn out to be more than just a way to get a 16” water main across the Huron River.
With some funding sources the now-closed bridge over the river at French Landing Dam could become a scenic overlook and pedestrian walkway.
This also is the area the Huron River Watershed Council is seeking to have upgraded to allow for better portage as part of the 104-mile paddle trek of the Huron River.
At Monday’s workshop session of the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees, the board discussed approval of $32,000 for Wade Trim engineers to look into the options for the water main attached to the deteriorating bridge that has been closed to traffic for some time.
It was the old Edison Lake roadway that was abandoned when the new roadway and bridge were built just to the south.
Dave Nummer of Wade Trim said there is an 8” gas line that also crosses the river on the bridge, so MichCon will have to be consulted, along with the DNR because of the lake and FERC because of the dam.
DPW Director Tom McDonald said the water main is very important because it brings water to the township from one of the Detroit Water pits.
He said the township needed Wade Trim to look at a number of preliminary issues before a design could be determined. McDonald said there are issues with right of way, whether it should have the same alignment or, perhaps, go under the river or lake with directional boring.
There was much discussion over whether Wade Trim should get paid a lump sum of $32,000 for the preliminary work or bill the township at its regular hourly rates. Wade Trim said it would be glad to do the project either way.
Trustee Jeff Jahr called the project interesting but necessary because the old bridge is in need of repair. He said it was a historic bridge and popular fishing site.
Trustee Jahr said he had talked to the DNR and was told there should be more promotion of the fishing in that area because salmon are coming upstream to the area of the dam.
Jahr also said the water main runs through the levee that FERC required the township to make.
McDonald said Wade Trim is highly unlikely to get a simple answer for the project.
“We have a liability … and have some critical customers,” McDonald said, noting that Huron Valley Steel has water mains going through their property and the township has to determine “how to not cause them problems.”
Nummer said if the township could get a grant, they could make the bridge really something special for the public to use.
By Rosemary K. Otzman