Progress made on bridge project
WELLS — The recent closure of the U.S. 2 and 41 bridge over the Escanaba River by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) went well, MDOT Communications Representative for the Superior Region Dan Weingarten said. The closure lasted from Oct. 16-20.
The closure took place to allow for the removal of the old E&LS Railroad bridge. According to Weingarten, there were no major problems with this process.
“The old … bridge has been removed,” he said. The railroad bridge’s abutments have been demolished, and this bridge will be refurbished and used elsewhere.
As was the case for the Escanaba River bridge’s first closure, the bridge re-opened to traffic slightly ahead of schedule.
“The roadway re-opened at 4:30 (Friday) morning,” Weingarten said. Initially, the bridge’s re-opening had been scheduled for 6 a.m. that day.
During the closure period, eastbound traffic in the area was detoured from U.S. 2 via County Roads 426, 420, and 531 and onto M-35 before returning to U.S. 2. This route was reversed for westbound traffic. In the interest of reducing the conflicts on the detour route, County Road 420 was closed to through traffic at the east leg of the intersection with County Road 531 and Rivers 22nd Road was closed to westbound traffic between County Road 531 and M-35.
“While there were delays, things went more smoothly this time than during the previous closure,” Weingarten said.
Weingarten expressed his gratitude to law enforcement in the area for the role they played in improving traffic flow on the detour route.
“We want to thank local law enforcement and the Michigan State Police for their help with maintaining traffic flow through the detour,” he said. Law enforcement officials were present at intersections along the detour route to direct traffic.
There will be one more scheduled bridge closure in 2017 so that beams for the new Escanaba River bridge can be placed, Weingarten said. This closure will not last nearly as long as the first two.
“(It) will not be even a full 24 hours,” he said.
While there is currently no date set for this closure, MDOT does have a target date for moving traffic to the new bridge span that has been under construction.
“We’re shooting for Dec. 2,” Weingarten said.