TRAVERSE CITY — Old tensions over whether to build a Hartman and Hammond roads connection and bridge flared again during a special joint meeting between two county governing boards.
Dozens of community leaders and members of the public attended the meeting Wednesday and listened as Grand Traverse County commissioners and members of the county’s Road Commission discussed the interrelated projects of removing the Boardman and Sabin dams, replacing the Cass Road river crossing that sits atop the Boardman Dam and possibly building a Hartman-Hammond bridge.
Several county officials said the conversation raised more questions than it answered, and said the issues at stake require further discussion.
“If you think you are going to walk away a little more confused tonight than you were when you came in, then welcome to our world,” Road Commissioner Marc McKellar said during the meeting.
The road commission began studying a Hartman-Hammond bridge in the late 1990s to improve cross-town traffic and spur development.
A contentious debate on the matter raged until late 2004 when the road commission shelved the project. Bridge funds were reauthorized in 2005 to fund The Grand Vision land use and traffic study.
A report from the study recommended the Hartman-Hammond connection remain tucked away until a future date. But some local officials like Garfield Township Supervisor Chuck Korn and county Commission Chairman Herb Lemcool, who represents Garfield Township on the county board, want to revisit that bridge.
Korn wants to delay the demolition of Boardman Dam and Cass Road Bridge while the road commission investigates connecting Hartman and Hammond roads. The demolition is part of an ongoing dam removal project to restore the Boardman River to a more natural state.
Many officials, including Korn, said the issue is not necessarily an either-or choice between a new Cass Road crossing and a Hartman-Hammond bridge.