UNION TOWNSHIP — All that is left of the Arbogast Road bridge, over the east end of Union Lake, is a pile of wet wood splinters and a series of manufactured wood beams built in 1972.
The Michigan Department of Transportation used the unique wood design for construction when state truck load limits were less.
But, after 37 years of wear as a by pass around Union City for some, in 2009 the laminated wooden deck was splitting. It was declared unsafe for traffic and closed when inspectors found the timber, 130 feet span, had begun to split in six to eight places.
Hardman Construction, Inc. of Ludington, winner of the $1.84 million bid, is already installing cofferdams around the new end sections for the bridge. Once completed it can drive steel pilings into the soil to support 188 foot concrete box beams which will span the St. Joseph river as it pours into the lake.
The 27 inch beams will be seven inches higher than the normal water levels over the river for more boat clearance.
Work will continue through the winter. A completion date in 2016 will depend on the winter weather conditions.