Botbyl lives next to the Taft Road overpass across U.S. 31 — one of the many bridges that have topped state and local lists in recent years as being in poor condition.
“It was in bad shape,” he said. “You really wouldn’t feel safe walking over it.”
Last year, the Michigan Department of Transportation made improvements to the bridge. That work included painting, deck resurfacing, expansion joint replacement, a new barrier wall and approach reconstruction.
“They were having some problems with the approach, because every time a car approached, you’d hear some clanking,” Botbyl said.
There are plenty more bridges in the state that are in need of repair or replacement, as pointed out in a new report by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.
“This report is a stark reminder of what Michigan drivers experience every day — potholes and worn-out bridges,” said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the association. “Not fixing our deteriorating bridges and roads now will cost Michigan taxpayers more in the long run.”
The organization reviewed the conditions on 10,929 state and local bridges in Michigan, and found one in four are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
“Those titles don’t necessarily mean that the bridge is unsafe,” said John Richard, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Grand Region, which includes Ottawa County. “(It could mean) it’s not up to current standards.”
Functionally obsolete means a bridge is, by design, no longer functionally adequate for its task. An example is a bridge that may not have enough lanes to accommodate traffic flow, or it’s not wide enough for emergency shoulders.
Structurally deficient bridges have deck, superstructure or substructure National Bridge Inventory ratings of less than 4.
Ottawa County Road Commission engineer Jack Klein is familiar with these trends.
“We are required to do a basic inspection for each structure every two years,” he said. “Every bridge gets looked at once every two years, regardless.”
As needs pop up, additional inspections may occur on the 135 bridges in the county that the Road Commission is responsible for, Klein said.
Bridges that need work rely on the MDOT Local Bridge Program for funding.
To read the whole story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.