BY MELANIE YOUNG
Grosse Ile residents and visitors hoping for real information about the condition of the Wayne County bridge remained frustrated in September. As news of more planned closures of the span surfaced, little information was provided to the public about the condition of the bridge or about how long it will take to fix it.
In early September, a press release from Wayne County Department of Public Services announced that the bridge would be closed to traffic from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 for a “routine check of the bridge piers.” The document also indicated that the inspection of the piers would be conducted monthly “until repairs to the footing of the bridge can be completed.” At press time, no other inspections had been scheduled, according to Grosse Ile Police Chief Joe Porcarelli.
Porcarelli said he and other township officials last met with Wayne County staff and the project manager for the bridge work for Wayne County in August. At the meeting he and the other township officials were told that there are two main issues with the bridge: the decking and the support piers. The Wayne County representatives said that they believe that the repairs to the decking and the piers can be completed by reducing traffic to one lane, therefore avoiding a complete closure of the span. The work on the piers will be done via a barge in the Trenton Channel.
Township officials were not given a time frame, but were told that it would take months to make the repairs. According to Porcarelli, the Sept. 15 closure was for survey work to be done. The project has been put out for bids from architects and contractors, but the township has not been notified when work will begin. Porcarelli said he did not know if the work would be started this fall.
From the police department side, he said the township contacts him when the county notifies them about the bridge closures. He then works with his traffic officers to handle the rush hours. He said the busiest times for traffic are 6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.
“We monitor traffic constantly during the closures and if we see backups, we direct traffic and get it pushed through the lights.” He said so far things have gone smoothly with the recent closures.
The saying “no news is good news” doesn’t apply here, as visitors and residents must continue to wait to hear concrete facts about the condition of the decades-old bridge, and what will be done to fix it. The only certainty is that it may be a long time before this is resolved.