Bridge to nowhere?

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:25 AM

“If my house was sitting here, they (Michigan Department of Transportation) would have bought it for the bridge project, said the 75-year-old woman.

Moll, who lives at 12290 N. Cedar, said she is glad that she gets to keep her home and not necessarily sad that she’ll be so close to the 130-foot structure.

“I was told when I step outside I would be looking at an aesthically-beautifull wall,” she said.

“We’ll see,” she smiled Wednesday morning as she watched workers put what looked like grout on the sculptured surface of the bridge abutments.

They were actually patching imperfections in the cement prior to today’s scheduled work of stretching the 120,000-pound beams over the road, according to Darren Dayton, job superintendent for Davis Construction of Lansing, the contractor for the bridge project.

Other workers were busy spreading the 1,100 yards of dirt being brought in Wednesday to backfill the abutments. Dayton said one tri-axle load truck could carry about a 30-yard load.

Dayton said a crane company from Grand Rapids would have two cranes on site this morning to put the beams into place. The beams were also expected to be delivered sometime this morning.

Dayton said state regulations were such that the trucks hauling the beams could not be on the roads before 9 a.m. He was not sure what time the load would arrive; but once it did, he expected all six beams to be placed within two or three hours.

North Cedar Drive between 124th and 120th avenues has been closed down for the work. It will also be closed Monday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The detour is 120th Avenue to Sleeper Street to 128th Avenue.

The $1.2 million project is just one piece of M-231, a two-lane limited-access road which will run from M-45 north to the I-96/M-104/112th Avenue interchange area near Nunica, according to the MDOT website. It will be located west of the existing 120th Avenue roadway.

A new bridge over the Grand River along this new route will be constructed, making it the fourth river crossing in Ottawa County. A bridge over Little Robinson Creek just south of North Cedar Drive is also in the plans.

Moll walked carefully, having had two knee replacements, to the back of her property overlooking the creek.

“It should be just a trickle, but the beavers must still be there,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”

Moll has already listened to the steady thud of pilings being pounded into the ground for several months. And the work is only for the southbound lane of M-231. She’ll have to go through it all over again when they start building the longer span across Little Robinson Creek.

She pointed to the area where her former neighbor, Lee Allman, used to have his house and fish smoking business.

“He used to have wood duck houses out there,” she said as she looked over the wetland area outlined in a protective fencing. “We used to have as many as 20 wood ducks out there. They probably didn’t like the thud, thud, thud either."

Allman was one of four property owners north of the North Cedar Drive bridge who sold their land to MDOT, according to Moll. Their houses have long-since been removed. She sold a 10-acre parcel, where she and her husband, the late Norman “Pete” Moll, used to grow Christmas trees, on the north side of the road.

Just off to the west is the property where her daughter and son-in-law, Barb and Steve Klempel, live — the main property of the former Moll homestead in the family since 1894, Marlene said. The old barn blew down on a past Mother’s Day, she said. The farmhouse was burned down several years ago as a training for area fire departments.

Moll said she is used to lots of people stopping and making comments on the “bridge to nowhere.”

“It ticks me off when they say that,” she said. “Would the state purchase all this property and build this bridge just to have it go nowhere?”

Moll said this was not the first time that family property has been sold to the state. The former Marlene Khodl grew up on the end of 132nd Avenue at the Grand River and many years ago her father sold property to the state for the Khodl Wildfowl Sanctuary.

Moll wastes little time bemoaning the loss of any of the land.

“The property gets divided up and everyone eventually moves away,” she said. “As for me, I’ll be getting out the lawn chairs with my friends and setting up a front-row seat.”

To see more photos, click here.

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