TRAVERSE CITY — The same bridge spanned a nearly 100-foot stretch of the Platte River for more than 50 years.
Michigan Department of Transportation officials plan to reconstruct the bridge, which was built in 1956 and comprises a portion of M-22 just north of Platte Lake.
“It’ll be a brand new bridge,” said David Pax, assistant construction engineer at MDOT who’s working on the project. “The overall effect will be there will not be any bridge supporting structure, or no piers, in the river, so it will effectively open the flow area of the river up.”
The existing two-lane bridge sits on two supporting structures that reach into the river.
Construction should go from March through September. MDOT will work on the bridge one lane at a time, so the other will always be open to traffic, Pax said.
MDOT officials plan to stay out of the river during peak fish traffic seasons.
“It’s an important area. Fish are passing through to get to Platte Lake and to get upstream to spawn,” said Heather Hettinger, a fisheries biologist at the Department of Natural Resources who’s working with MDOT.
Walleye, steelhead and suckers all pass through in the spring, while species of salmon and brown trout pass through in the fall.
The bridge is close to the Sleeping Bear Dunes Platte River Campground, and also Riverside Canoe Trips, a watercraft rental business.
“We’re all very concerned that they’re going to keep traffic moving and keep congestion down,” said Kyle Orr, owner of Riverside Canoe Trips.
An average of 2,700 vehicles cross the bridge each day, Pax said. The numbers fluctuates significantly between summer and winter.
MDOT will make its plans for the bridge available to the public on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Lake Township Hall. MDOT officials will also be available to discuss the slated changes to the bridge.