TRAVERSE CITY — The Cass Road Bridge will be replaced after all.
A debate simmered for months about possible alternatives to the Cass Road river crossing, but Grand Traverse County officials said Monday they are moving forward with replacing the Cass Road Bridge in part because they don’t want to lose millions of state dollars.
The local road bridge funding that was approved for Cass Road Bridge must be used for that bridge,” Grand Traverse County Road Commission Manager Jim Cook said.
County commissioners will hold a joint meeting with the road commission tonight to discuss an overall strategy for the bridge and related infrastructure projects, including removal of the Boardman and Sabin dams, replacement of the Cass Road river crossing that sits atop the Boardman Dam, and possibly building a Hartman and Hammond roads connection.
Some said they wanted to delay demolition of the Boardman Dam to buy time for consideration of a Hartman-Hammond connector. The road commission learned, though that $3 million-plus in Michigan Department of Transportation funding earmarked for the Cass Road Bridge replacement could not be reallocated for other projects.
Cook said the road commission supports replacing the Cass Road Bridge, but officials are looking at additional possible river crossings, including at Hartman and Hammond roads. Another crossing would serve as a regional connector to help alleviate traffic on South Airport Road, which is currently more than 20 percent over its traffic capacity.
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 be revisited at a future date.