New road would help in Morenci bridge replacement 10.22.08

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When Morenci city council members learned in May that the Main Street bridge over Silver Creek will have to be closed for replacement—perhaps in 2011—conversation turned to the difficulties of road closure during the construction period.

There would be no easy detour around the bridge at the main entrance to town from the east—particularly not for truck traffic serving local industries.

But due to the Palm Plastics expansion project announced earlier this month, the problem is likely to disappear.

Financial assistance from the State of Michigan will bring money to Morenci, as well as to Palm Plastics.

A portion of a $2.9 million CDBG grant will be used to construct a north/south road into Morenci’s industrial park. The road will begin at Main Street just east of Silver Creek by United Bank and Trust, and end at the existing industrial park road, the east/west Skyline Industrial  Drive.

The new road, to be called Hammontree Industrial Drive, will intersect Main Street east of the bridge and provide a detour during construction. The road project hinges on construction of Palm’s proposed second building.

State economic development officials were interested in the project for several reasons, said David Munson of Munson Development Company.

Inspection of the bridge earlier this year resulted not only in the order for replacement, but also called for a weight reduction from 61 tons to 42 tons.

That change was of concern to Palm Plastics in regard to inbound materials shipment. When the bridge is closed, traffic leading to Palm and to Roth Fabricating would be adversely affected to an even greater degree.

A detour through town would lead truck traffic through residential and school areas—a situation that’s avoided when possible.

Council members voted in May to seek federal funds that would cover 95 percent of the bridge replacement cost. That would leave the city with a share of about $15,000 plus engineering costs. Replacement would be scheduled in 2011.

The bridge inspector didn’t order immediate action beyond the load reduction, but regular inspections will check for additional deterioration. The inspector found scaling on the metal beams and underwash around the abutments.

The bridge problem was a factor in the state’s determination of financial aid to Palm Plastics, Munson said, but the benefit goes beyond the industrial park.

“I think it will help the city as a whole,” he said.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
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  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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