MDOT refines US-23 bridge project over Rifle
OMER — The Michigan Department of Transportation has refined plans for repair work on the US-23 bridge in Omer over the Rifle River in 2014. The plans now include letting traffic cross over a segment of the bridge while using a temporary traffic signal to prevent accidents.
MDOT held a planning meeting in August with Omer city officials, and Councilman Larry Daly reported during the city’s council meeting Aug. 27 that the current tentative plan is to focus all the work on the bridge surface itself. He said MDOT would only be doing limited work on the bridge approaches, and none on the bridge guardrails.
“(The bridge) will be stripped down to the beams,” Daly said. “The beam bearings will be cleaned and sandblasted. The work will go from an estimated $700,000 to $800,000, to an estimated $380,000.”
“They know there will be cost overruns already, so we’re probably still looking at $500,000 or so,” he added.
MDOT Regional Director Jack Hofweber said work will likely be split into two phases, each running roughly six weeks. He said MDOT would be closing half of the bridge at a time to do “deep deck overlay” work, or working primarily on the bridge deck but not much else.
Under the proposed plan, the temporary traffic signal will be in place for at least the first half of the project. The second half of the project may or may not see the traffic signal removed.
“It’s still kind of early,” Hofweber said. “It’s very preliminary. We usually don’t get into details at this stage because we’re still designing.”
Hofweber said the bridge plans should be finalized in November and put out for bids around March, with the goal of beginning work itself around July or August. He did not think full details would be available on the project until a bid has been selected by MDOT.
Hofweber told the Independent in February the bridge deck was deemed “structurally deficient” by the federal government and needed work, though the bridge’s beams and substructure were rated as being in fair condition.
Daly said he planned on using MDOT’s November planning meeting as one final opportunity to “beat their ears” about resurfacing US-23 through Omer, which he believes will not be able to handle much more winter weather without beginning to fall apart.
In April, Daly had told the council that the plan he heard had included setting up a temporary bridge for traffic to cross over while the bridge deck and guardrail was replaced all at once. He was also told at the time that the sidewalks on the bridge would not be widened, as it would require another costly I-beam underneath the bridge.