Overpass problem solved, for now

SWARTZ CREEK — The City of Swartz Creek fixed the approach to the bridge deck at I- 69 and Morrish Road in Swartz Creek on August 7-9.

There had been serious deterioration due to erosion along the west side of the approach. A subcontractor working in the area hauled away dirt and soil from the job site to the bridge deck and filled in the eroded spots as well as built out the shoulder along the approach.

“It appears to temporarily solved the problem,” said Paul Bueche, Swartz Creek city manager. “It corrected the damage from the wash out.”

The erosion had gotten so bad along the shoulder of the approach, which was heightened by the heavy rains that hit the area in early May, that Bueche feared another heavy downpour might cause part of the road to wash away.

The erosion had been due to an extremely steep grade on the west side of Morrish Road just to the north of the bridge deck, whereby heavy rains cause water and dirt to roll of the embankment and deteriorate the bridge approach.

“The hill was not designed properly,” Bueche said.

The work at the bridge deck turned out to be a cheap fix for the City of Swartz Creek. They got about 250-300 yards of soil free from the subcontractor, and the city just hired a bulldozer to grade the area.

In all, Bueche said the city has spent about $2,000 to correct the problem. However, he added the city still needs to add a curb to properly channel water to the north. The cost to add the curb, along with paving the shoulder, could cost the city about $15,000.

Still, even with the price of the curb, it is much cheaper than the estimated $120,000 project to rebuild the steep grade on the west side of Morrish Road that the city thought they were facing.

“It was a cheaper fix,” Bueche said.

The City of Swartz Creek had been in a dispute with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) over who should be responsible for repairing the approach to the bridge deck.

Bueche believes the steep grade is a direct result of the bridge, and therefore, the grade is part of that structure. He further believes that if the I-69 freeway was not there, Morrish Road would be a flat and level roadway, and the problem wouldn’t exist. For these reasons, Bueche believes the problem is clearly in the MDOT right of way.

MDOT believes the repairs are the city’s burden and points largely to Public Act 354 of 1993, which outlines the maintenance responsibilities of such structures as the approach to the bridge deck.

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