Bridge Fate To Be Decided
Road Commission looking at options
By N3 News Team
When the Colonial Bridge was erected by the railroad in 1905 the spanking new structure with sturdy timbers hoisting it high proved to be up to the task of transporting traffic across the railroad ravine it hovered over.
Having eclipsed the century mark with over a decade to boot the bridge has seen its better days and the traffic crossing it has...
... altered significantly since its beginnings during the Roosevelt administration…….. and we’re talking about Teddy not FDR.
Neither school buses nor vehicles from the road commission travel over the span these days where the speed limit is 5mph and weight restrictions fall below that of a more modern bridge. First timers passing over often find it a bit unnerving due to the low visibility and limited girth the bridge provides.
But it has been the narrow gateway connecting Colonial Drive for the past 111 years and has been kept in use despite questions regarding ownership and responsibility for monitoring due to the original owners leasing the railway to another rail company with no provisions regarding the post centennial structure.
That is until Saturday night when an accident that saw a vehicle careen off into the gulley below damaged one of the more senior members of the local bridge fraternity and closed it down to traffic.
The question posed to Newaygo County Road Commission Director Kelly Smith was “What now?”
“We’re working with the railroad people and have the finances secured for a new structure,” he said in a recent interview. “We’re hoping to have the deal with the railroad done by fall and bid it out in early winter for construction next year.”
As far as repairing the current structure Mr. Smith is not convinced it is the best route to take.
“It is a really old bridge and the cost of trying to shore it up when we are looking at a new bridge coming in next year doesn’t seem like the best way to use our funds.”
“We recognize the inconvenience for some of the traffic that passes through there but with the bridge being in such poor shape it just doesn’t make sense to put the money it would take for a temporary fix when there are other projects that could benefit from those resources.”
Since we had Mr. Smith in his office we asked about a couple of other bridge-related projects currently in progress.
The Croton Causeway is scheduled for completion in October and we learned the crew is about 2 weeks from switching lanes on the roadwork. The causeway is currently served by a temporary traffic light to allow one lane of vehicles at a time to pass over the construction section.
The Bingham Avenue bridge over Tank Creek, currently closed, will be completed the second week of August.
And the Colonial?
No final decision has been made by the Road Commission Board but there is a good possibility the aging and now badly damaged bridge has perhaps carried its last vehicle over the tracks below.