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Questions surround county’s timing of Grosse Ile bridge closure

Posted: 6:20 PM, Nov 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-15 05:48:11-05

GROSSE ILE, Mich. (WXYZ) — It’s gotten a lot harder to Get Around Metro Detroit for residents downriver. Wayne County suddenly closed the free bridge connecting Grosse Ile to the mainland Wednesday. Now residents and township officials want answers.

The closure caught everyone by surprise: the township and the residents had only a few hours of notice that their main crossing was about to close. The 7 Investigators have learned the inspection that prompted this sudden closure of the Parkway bridge actually took place about two and a half months ago.

The closure stems from problems with some of the floor beams that help support the bridge. It’s not clear how long the bridge will be closed. County officials hope to start repairs as soon as possible.

Barricades now block access to Wayne County’s Parkway bridge. The busy bridge is usually the main way on and off Grosse Ile for more than 16,000 cars, trucks and school buses every day.

Now miles away, there are long lines of cars, waiting to cross the only other bridge linking Grosse Ile to the mainland: the toll bridge.

“It’s an hour we’ve been in the line,” said one motorist.

“It’s a surprise, it happens too often,” said another waiting in line Thursday to get home.

Last spring, the 7 Investigators first showed you how a 2007 underwater inspection of the Parkway bridge recommended inspections of the piers underwater every 36 months. But Wayne County waited 10 years to do another inspection.

“The support piers hold up the entire bridge. And problems with support piers and their foundations are one of the leading causes of bridge failures in the country,” Greg Karmazin from the Grosse Ile Civic Association told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo in May.

That’s also when county engineers said they had started monthly surface inspections and regular monitoring of the bridge. During one of those inspections, workers found some deterioration and decided the bridge needed to close immediately.

Grosse Ile Township Supervisor Brian Loftus told 7 Action News on Thursday that Wayne County needs to do more to communicate with the township.

“I’m extremely frustrated we were given virtually no notice on this closure,” said Loftus. “We know the bridge needs repairs both in the support piers and the metal superstructure. We had no idea there was any imminent concerns that affected safety, and I still don’t have an official report, any kind of technical description of what generated the closure.”

Loftus and other residents are also upset that Wayne County has had to delay the planned repairs to the bridge piers that had been slated for this fall.

In the meantime, Loftus is hoping everyone can have patience at the toll bridge.

“Consider we’re all in the same boat: there’s one bridge, a little common courtesy, a little common sense,” said Loftus.

A Wayne County spokesman denies that they did not alert the Grosse Ile Township leadership.

Regarding the two and half month timeframe between the inspection and the closure, Wayne County Director of Communications Jim Martinez said after an inspection, there is data collections and analysis that needs to be verified by engineers.

“We asked the contractor to advise us at the first sign if some additional action was needed so we could react accordingly,” said Martinez.

And several questions remain about the timing of this – and why there was so little notice about the closure for an inspection that took place months ago.

Long term repairs for the Parkway bridge are still included in the county’s 2020 construction plan.

If you have a story for Heather, you can email her at hcatallo@wxyz.com