Coates Highway’s Red Bridge to be replaced

The Red Bridge — which takes the traveling public across the Big Manistee River on Coates Highway in Dickson Township — is scheduled to be replaced beginning in April. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

The Red Bridge — which takes the traveling public across the Big Manistee River on Coates Highway in Dickson Township — is scheduled to be replaced beginning in April. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

DICKSON TWP. — Approaching the end of its life expectancy, the “Red Bridge” — which takes the traveling public across the Big Manistee River on Coates Highway in Dickson Township — will undergo replacement beginning in April.

The Manistee County Road Commission (MCRC) recently announced the schedule and scope of the project, which is slated to start on or around April 2 with an anticipated completion date of Sept. 28.

Coates Highway and the bridge, which will be closed during heavy construction, are scheduled to be back open to traffic on or before Aug. 24.

According to MCRC manager Mark Sohlden, the project includes the total removal of the existing 190-foot-long four span bridge and replacement with a new three span concrete bridge (totaling 212 feet in length), as well as related road approach reconstruction work, guardrail and pavement markings.

The construction project will be 95 percent funded by State Local Bridge funds with 5 percent coming from the MCRC’s local funds.

The project low bid of $1,491,541.35 was submitted by Milbocker and Sons, Inc. of Allegan to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in Lansing on Dec. 1. The MCRC funds also pay for the design engineering services and construction engineering services (construction inspection and contract administration) for the project.

The major replacement project has been a long time coming from the MCRC, Sohlden said, predating his tenure with the MCRC, which started in December 2013.

“The MCRC was originally approved for funding for the project in 2012 (for construction in 2015), however the amount of funding ($1,110,000) was not adequate for the project once preliminary design was performed for the project in 2014.

“The MCRC then re-applied for additional funding with the annual bridge funding application process in 2015 and 2016,” he said. “The MCRC was finally approved for adequate funding in late 2016, based on our 2016 application, and MDOT allowed the project to be constructed in 2018.”

Sohlden described the process of applying for funding for projects of this nature.

“Road agencies (road commissions, cities, villages, etc.) can apply for bridge funds on an annual basis for the replacement, rehabilitation or for preventative maintenance for bridges and large culverts (measuring 20 feet in length or longer),” he explained. “The applications are submitted to MDOT, then a Region Bridge Council and their members review the applications, perform site reviews, and then rank the structures/applications based on various criteria such as the structure condition, location, traffic, etc.

“Selections are then made based on the amount of funding that is allocated to the region.”

Sohlden noted that prior to MDOT’s bid letting, the engineer’s final estimate for the project was $1,880,543. The bids received — and the one ultimately accepted ($1,491,541.35) — were substantially less than anticipated.

The bridge and bridge site will be totally closed during construction, Sohlden said, and thru traffic will be detoured via a detour route with signage. Portions of Coates Highway, High Bridge Road and Warfield Road will be used as the detour route.

Access to local recreational areas, including but not limited to the United States Forest Service Red Bridge River Access Site, will be maintained at all times.

Recreational use of the Big Manistee River (boats, canoes, kayaks, etc.) will also be maintained at all times during the bridge replacement project. Sohlden, however, advises people to use caution when they are in the vicinity of the bridge construction work.

Sohlden also asks for cooperation and patience from both the traveling public and recreational users of the Big Manistee River during the project. For questions regarding the project, the Manistee County Road Commission can be reached at (231) 889-0000.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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