LONG RAPIDS TOWNSHIP - Construction crews are pushing to have a new bridge on M-65 over a branch of the Thunder Bay River open by Friday.
Crew members are putting the final touches on a new, $2.6 million bridge on the state highway, Doug Wilson, Department of Transportation Alpena transportation service center manager, said. They're working hard to make sure the bridge, which crosses the Thunder Bay River's north branch just south of the Maple Lane Road intersection, is done.
"There may be some work going on after it opens up on Friday," he said, adding there could be temporary lane closures as a result.
Work on the project started in March, and MDOT originally hoped to replace one lane of the span at a time, Wilson said. This would've allowed M-65 traffic to flow, albeit under traffic light control. In April, crews discovered the road approaching the bridge had settled into a void that formed underneath.
"That's when we determined it was not safe to have that one lane of traffic, and that's when we had to go to a full detour," he said.
It's unclear why the road settled like it did, although there are many possibilities, Wilson said. Among them were high waters in the spring.
After geological technicians determined the road couldn't support traffic, drivers were rerouted to a detour along Long Rapids Road, Bolton Road and Long Lake Highway, Wilson said. It's a lengthy detour, but the Alpena TSC hasn't received many complaints lately.
"We really have not heard that much since the initial shutdown last spring, so I think a lot of people have gotten used to the detour," he said.
Barring any unforeseen delays, drivers won't need the detour for much longer, and just in time for the Posen Potato Fest, Wilson said.