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WCRC Completes Bridge & Culvert Inspections

By March 10, 2017Articles

Failed culvert on Weber Rd

The Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) has recently completed inspections of the county’s bridges and culverts between 8 and 20 feet in span. These routine inspections examined degradation, cracks, corrosion, and other factors related to structural integrity. When a structure was deemed deficient, weight restrictions were imposed. When a structure was qualified as failing, WCRC closed the structure.

The bridge and culvert inspections have impacted residents across the county, but have been necessary to ensure a safe road system for the public. Over 400 structures were inspected between 2015 and 2016. In total, 17 structures were closed, 39 had weight restrictions imposed and nine have been repaired or replaced.

Timing Replacements
When a structure closes, residents want to know when the road will reopen. This can be a difficult question to answer and depends on the scope of the project and the availability of funding. Until funding and permits are secured, WCRC cannot schedule a replacement and must inform residents that the structure is closed until further notice.

The process to design, obtain funding, and secure permits for a new structure can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. The steps to replace a structure include:

  • Design the new structure
  • Obtain funding
  • Secure a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality & the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office
  • Order materials, fabricate and bid out construction work
  • Construction – small culverts can be replaced in a day, bridges can take between 2-5 months

Funding Repairs
WCRC will fund replacements and repairs of structures that are located on the primary road system. However, Michigan law requires that a “local source” match WCRC’s contribution to a project on a local road; most bridge and culvert replacements require a 50% match. If a local match cannot be secured, the road will remain closed.

The majority of bridges and culverts that have been closed or restricted during recent inspections are on local roads. WCRC has been working with townships to identify and secure the funding necessary to repair or replace structures. There are currently 14 culvert replacement projects scheduled for the 2017 construction season.

2017 Culvert Replacements

Project led by Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner