WITH VIDEO: Bagley Street Bridge reopens to traffic

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Vehicles cross over the Bagley Street Bridge after it reopened for traffic on Thursday.

ALPENA — More than 15 months since the reconstruction of the Bagley Street Bridge began, contractors put the finishing touches on the bridge Thursday morning and it opened up to traffic later in the day.

The $10.3 million project began in February of last year and was partially open for the winter months when construction was halted. It closed again in April so crews could finish the job.

The original expected completion date was December of last year.

The project faced some delays from the COVID-19 pandemic and hard limestone — discovered during soil boring work — forcing minor adjustments to the bridge’s design on several occasions.

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Alpena County Road Commission Managing Director Ryan Brege said crews worked hard Thursday morning to get the bridge open and suitable for traffic.

“There was a tremendous amount of coordination to get it open today,” Brege said. “We had to make sure the contractor was 100% done before letting traffic on it, because we didn’t want to open it, and then have to close it again.”

The bridge has undergone a complete renovation and the deck on the new bridge doubles the width and includes a turn lane, a sidewalk, and a mixed-use walkway. Brege said the structure is complete, but there is some simple mop-up work to complete in the coming days.

“They are still working on some landscaping outside the bridge and the lighting still needs to be finalized,” he said. “There is some permanent signing going up as we speak, but the bridge itself is done.”

Brege previously told The News the bridge will more easily handle the volume of traffic that crosses each day. He said an average of 15,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day — a higher volume of traffic than when the bridge was first built in 1976.

Brege said the bridge’s life expectancy is 75 years with routine maintenance.

When the project was announced, the Road Commission offered the public a choice: Closing the bridge for a one year to complete the entire project — or closing the bridge down to one lane for two years and completing the work around the traffic.

Correspondence to the Road Commission indicated people wanted to get the project done as quickly as possible so the one-year option was selected.

The unexpected challenges of the pandemic, a supply-chain issue, and limestone might have thrown the project some curveballs, but Brege said the project went smoothly overall and the community has a bridge that’s safe.

“I really appreciate the people’s patience and understanding,” he said. “We didn’t want it to go into a second year any more than anyone else, but we wanted to make sure the bridge was constructed properly and to specification. We didn’t want to cut any corners.”

The reopening of the bridge should loosen up traffic up and down Chisholm Street and 11th Avenue — where a detour to circumvent the construction zone was established. While the bridge was closed, there were many crashes along the detour.

Funding for the project came from state and federal grants, as well as necessary matching money from the Road Commission.


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