Bridge work ahead

Becky Vargo • Mar 31, 2016 at 8:00 AM

NORTON SHORES — The Pontaluna Road bridge over U.S. 31 will close Monday for a rehabilitation project scheduled to continue through late June.

Pontaluna Road, about 4 miles north of Grand Haven, is a back gateway to the Lakes Mall area as well as a main road to P.J. Hoffmaster State Park to the west and Fruitport to the east.

All of the ramps entering and exiting the highway will remain open for one more week, according to Marc Fredrickson, assistant construction engineer for the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Muskegon office. 

Project details

Starting April 11, the on- and off-ramps on the northbound side of the highway will close to traffic for about four weeks, Fredrickson said.

Pontaluna Road west of Harvey Street to U.S. 31 will also close at that time for reconstruction — a City of Norton Shores project. Access to Craig’s Cruisers will be maintained throughout the work.

The on- and off-ramps on the southbound side of the highway will close in mid-May for about six weeks, Fredrickson said.

Traffic on U.S. 31 will be affected at times during the project with intermittent lane and shoulder closures, the engineer said.

The two-lane roadway over U.S. 31 has become rougher and more congested as development has blossomed in the Lakes Mall area at the intersection of Harvey and Sternberg roads.

“It does need to be fixed up,” said Melissa Vandervelde, supervisor of Hoffmaster State Park. “I drive it every morning and am always dodging potholes. It’s pretty rough there.”

Vandervelde said it’s also scary when someone tries to pass another vehicle waiting to turn onto one of the ramps.

The state’s plans call for widening the approaches for 300 feet on each side of the bridge over the highway.

MDOT Operations Engineer Leighann Mikesell said curbs on the bridge will be eliminated and the railings changed to allow for a wider shoulder, and thus a safer pedestrian crossing, although the width will not be a standard-size pedestrian crossing.

Short turn lanes will be added at each end of the bridge.

The southbound U.S. 31 off-ramp will be realigned to match up with the southbound on-ramp. All of the ramps will be widened at the connection to Pontaluna Road to provide a bigger turning radius for large vehicles.

The deck of the bridge will also be fixed and repaved.

Mikesell said traffic controls, such as the three-way stop, would remain on the east side of the bridge. Additional stop signs will not be placed on the west side at this time.

“We looked at the (traffic) volumes and it doesn’t warrant a three-way stop with the volumes we have today,” she said.

The MDOT engineer said the realignment will make it easier for motorists to see “who’s doing what.” The southbound off-ramp will also be slightly longer than it is now.

Fredrickson said the bridge will also be painted a two-tone tan, such as was done to the Taft Road bridge to the south.

Getting to the park

Vandervelde said the project will probably affect attendance at Hoffmaster State Park.

“They’re going to have to work a little bit harder to get to us,” Vandervelde said. “Luckily, there are alternate routes to get to the park.”

Anyone planning to camp at the park (camping opens April 8) will be able to get information about the road construction project on the reservation website at www.midnrreservations.com/hoffmaster. Detour signs are already in place.

Craig’s Cruisers, located between U.S. 31 and Harvey Street on the south side of Pontaluna Road, will also suffer some setbacks, said Jeff Gebhart, spokesman for the amusement company.

“They’re improving the roads, which we like,” he said. “We just have to deal with the work.”

The bridge closure begins during spring break for many area schools. Access to Craig’s Cruisers will be easy off Harvey Street, and since the location is more of a destination, Gebhart believes spring break customers will still find their way to the recreational business.

The $1.75 million bridge rehabilitation project is being funded through the state’s Congestion Mitigation Air Quality fund.

Fredrickson said the state is not tackling a larger bridge replacement project at this time because the current structure still has 20-30 years “of good life” left in it. He said the state would consider adding additional lanes when it becomes time to replace the bridge.

The City of Norton Shores project on about 600 feet of Pontaluna Road, between Harvey and U.S. 31, will cost $105,000, said City Engineer Jim Murphy. Crews will remove old pavement, put in new gravel and asphalt, and replace the existing spillway. This project will not interfere with the Harvey Street and Pontaluna Road intersection, which was reconstructed 10 years ago.

Once the work begins, motorists will be detoured on Grand Haven Road, Harvey Street and Sternberg Road.

You can keep track of road construction projects at: mdotnetpublic.state.mi.us/drive/Default.aspx.


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