New road would help in Morenci bridge replacement 10.22.08

Written 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.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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