M-86 bridge repair to start in September

·2 min read
John Lindsey, manager of St. Joseph County Road Commission, and engineering technician Don Preston look at the east end of the M-86 bridge over Prairie River. Michigan Department of Transportation plans to correct a dip at the bridge in early September.
John Lindsey, manager of St. Joseph County Road Commission, and engineering technician Don Preston look at the east end of the M-86 bridge over Prairie River. Michigan Department of Transportation plans to correct a dip at the bridge in early September.

A flaw at the M-86 bridge over Prairie River in Lockport Township is expected to be fixed – 23 years after the problem allegedly was created.

Next month, Michigan Department of Transportation will seek bids for the repair, which is supposed to start in September, according to MDOT’s Nick Schirripa. The task of replacing approach slabs at the east and west ends of the bridge falls into the category “heavy maintenance," Schirripa said.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1999.

“As anyone who has traveled M-86 west of Centreville knows, there’s a very defined dip after the approach slabs,” he said. “Regardless of how that occurred, possibly some settling of material over time, it’s a situation we are glad will soon be resolved.”

St. Joseph County Road Commission has the misfortune of being located about 500 feet from the bridge. Agency manager John Lindsey said it’s a common misconception that the flawed bridge and the 23-year wait to fix it is the county’s fault and is it's obligation to correct.

“We’re an easy target, of course, and I have worked tirelessly to remind people the ‘M’ roads and ‘U.S.’ roads are not under our jurisdiction,” he said. “But people forget and when they see our department so close to this bridge, it’s just convenient, I guess, for people to take it out on us.”

From what Lindsey is told, the approach slabs – concrete slabs that separate the roadway from the bridge itself – were not installed properly in the beginning. The problem caught MDOT’s attention in summer 2021, he said, when the safety chain of a camper trailer came detached as a result of the dip. Lindsey has photos of the detached trailer lying on its side west of the bridge on the southern edge of the road.

Not long after that incident, MDOT officials got in touch with Lindsey and started to develop a solution.

Lindsey is aware of about a half-dozen instances, including one involving his agency, where the dip has caused trailers to detach from the vehicles pulling them.

In the aforementioned case, however, Lindsey said, the safety chain broke, causing the trailer to careen out of control.

“Most people who live around here know that if they’re pulling a trailer, it’s advisable to slow down before crossing the bridge,” he said.

Work on the project is scheduled to begin Sept. 6 and could take up to six weeks to complete. Work will involve one lane at a time, requiring a portable signal to regulate the single-lane flow of traffic, Schirripa said.

This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: News