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  • Jim Townsend

Two Local Bridges Identified as in Poor Condition on MDOT Site

Much attention is currently being focused on infrastructure needs in our state. From water systems to roads to bridges, our state is facing several crises due to outdated or poorly maintained infrastructure, as well as the brutal forces of nature in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of transportation, or MDOT, provides the public with a website that displays the conditions of Bridges in the state. Located at, the site displays the condition of more than 11,000 bridges in the state.

According to the site, “Federal law, outlined in the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS), defines a bridge as a structure carrying traffic with a span greater than 20 feet and requires that all bridges be inspected every two years to monitor and report condition ratings.”

Locally, the bridges located at Divine Highway/Looking Glass River and Cutler Road/I-96 are both scored as being in the poor category. According to the MDOT bridges site, “A bridge in Poor condition is a candidate for major rehabilitation or replacement and the owner should identify a source for the funding required to accomplish the work. During this process, the bridge continues to deteriorate. When the bridge no longer has the strength to bear the loads for which it was designed, the bridge must be Posted for lower loads to maintain safety.”

The Divine Highway/Looking Glass River bridges is owned by the City of Portland and was constructed in 1979. According to a capital improvement plan posted on the City of Portland Website ( ), this bridge will not be replaced until 2020 or later, and the pre-design cost estimate is $3,363,000. Anticipated funding includes both local and MDOT funding.

The Beacon reached out to Portland City Manager Tutt Gorman regarding the Divine Highway/Looking Glass River bridge. Gorman said, “We apply for bridge replacement or repair/maintenance through MDOT’s Local Bridge Program every year. City Council actually just passed resolutions not too long ago for this year’s submission (replacement of Divine and maintenance of Bridge Street). We were recently awarded approx. 400k for repairs to the Grand River Bridge to take place in 2019/2020 under the same program mentioned above.” Gorman added, “As it relates to Divine, it’s a matter of when, not if it will be funded. City engineers routinely inspect the bridge and load restrictions have been put in place as well. We have been planning for the anticipated replacement of Divine since I came on as City Manager. As everyone knows, there is no easy alternative route and construction will take several months. That said, we are working towards the concept of building the new bridge next to the existing one. This would help mitigate the impact of the construction with the current bridge remaining open — at least intermittently. Also, Emergency Services is another concern.” He went on to say, “Several variables must come together for this to happen. One of which was the City acquisition of the ADM Property and also the property owned by the condos across the river. We recently acquired it through a DNR Grant. It’s all coming together so far. It’s important to note that when these grants are awarded, construction is typically three years out.”

The Cutler Road/I-96 bridge is owned by MDOT, and was originally constructed in 1957. Driving by recently, it appears that some initial prep work has already begun. According to an informational flyer from MDOT (, work on this bridge is expected to last mid-March – mid-October 2019. The posted detour will include Grand River Ave., Peake Road and Monroe Road. The removal and replacement work is projected to cost $3.9 million.

Images on in this piece are screenshots from the MDOT bridge condition site or original photos taken by Jim Townsend of The Diving Hwy. Bridge over the Looking Glass River.

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