Despite snow and cold, work continues on Escanaba River Bridge project

Jordan Beck | Daily Press The U.S. 2 and 41 bridge over the Escanaba River is shown Tuesday. Although winter weather has a firm grip on the area, work on the bridge replacement project continues.

WELLS — Although winter weather has a firm grip on the area, work on the U.S. 2 and 41 bridge over the Escanaba River continues. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) expects the project to be completed later this year.

In December 2017, traffic on the Escanaba River bridge was moved to the bridge’s westbound span to allow for the removal of the old eastbound bridge deck. MDOT Communications Representative for the Superior Region Dan Weingarten said the work has been going well.

“Roughly 80 percent of the demolition work has been completed on the remaining span,” he said. The old bridge’s few remaining piers are being removed at this time, and the demolition work should be completed in the next two or three weeks.

Zenith Tech, the project’s prime contractor, plans to install new access roads on the downstream side of the bridge next month.

“In mid-March, they hope to be able to get back into the river to build temporary causeways,” Weingarten said. These would be similar to the causeways built on the other side of the bridge last year.

Weingarten said this work may not take place exactly when it is scheduled to.

“That’s, of course, dependent on weather and water levels,” he said. Once these causeways are constructed, work on drilling footings for the bridge’s new eastbound span will begin.

While the majority of the bridge closures scheduled for the project have already taken place, Weingarten said there will be at least one more closure during the project.

“Tentatively, in late April, there would be a one-day closure and detour while they place the beams for the new bridge,” he said.

During the closure period, eastbound traffic will be detoured from U.S. 2 via County Roads 426, 420, and 531 and onto M-35 before returning to U.S. 2. This route will be reversed for westbound traffic.

Aside from this closure, Weingarten said MDOT does not expect any major changes to be made to the bridge’s traffic flow in the coming months.

“The traffic will stay in the same configuration that it’s been in through the winter,” he said. No other bridge closures for this project have been scheduled by MDOT.

Weingarten said MDOT is aiming to have the bridge project finished in early fall.

“We hope to be completed with the entire project in late September,” he said.