A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum…


Would that it had turned out as funny as the Zero Mostel movie by the same name…

Late last week I needed to take a ride into Jackson for some supplies, and because the Cornell Rd., bridge has been condemned, I went via the Mann-to-Behling-to-Albion Rd. route.  As I approached Albion Rd., I noticed a white Jeep with flashing yellow lights parked at the corner near the Kalamazoo River.  Curious, but half knowing what I was going to find, I pulled over behind it to enquire what was up.  Sure enough, as I walked to the Jeep, I saw the logo for Great Lakes Engineering Group on its driver’s door and a gentleman in reflective yellow safety vest seated inside, working on a clipboard.  He put the window down and a conversation of about 10-15 minutes duration ensued.  The gist of that conversation follows:

I introduced myself to him and after exchanging some pleasantries, asked if he were inspecting the bridge.   He said “yes”.  I told him I was the Township Supervisor then asked what the prognosis was.  His reply was: “It’s seen better days.”   He went on to explain that the concrete was obviously spalling off and that the steel that supports the bridge deck was deteriorating at a pretty rapid clip.  He told me that all of the structural steel under the bridge is ‘scaling’ which means it is rusting and the rust is falling off in big sheets.  That is never good.  He said he had ‘taken a hammer’ to it and every one of the beams shed scale.  He said he was very surprised that there were no holes rusted through yet, as was the case with the Cornell Rd. Bridge.

I asked if it would be feasible to effect a repair by bolting heavy “C” channel over the damaged “I” Beams, and he told me that it would be a waste of money and effort, as the existing iron is really too far gone to support a repair and the old iron would just keep rusting away under the repair.  He also indicated that the bottom flange of the “I” beams are all rusted out and the bridge needs to be replaced.  Then I asked the $64K questions:  I asked him to make an educated guess on how long we have before the bridge deteriorates to the point where it needs to be closed?  I stressed that I wouldn’t hold him to his estimate, but I need some idea as to how long we have to effect replacement before we get stuck with another condemned bridge.  He said that depending on the rate of deterioration and a host of other variables, maybe, just maybe,  we might have 10 years left.  Maybe.

So there you have it.  As soon as I got home that afternoon, I penned a letter to Chris Bolt and Jim Cole of JCDOT  to initiate some remedial activity on this and the Cornell Rd., Bridge, amongst other concerns  I have.   I’ve been told that they are meeting this week to discuss these issues and see if they can’t come up with some options, and they would keep me in the loop.  Rest assured, as soon as I hear something worth repeating, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

Which brings me to my final point:  I need your help with something.  I am making a concerted effort to expand our base of communication here in Concord Township and the quickest and most cost effective way to communicate is by email.  PLEASE forward this email and/or encourage all residents you know to sign up for our email newsletter.  It’s free, it’s fast and it’s the best way to learn what is happening in Concord Township.  Just go to: https://concordtownshipmi.org/ and sign up in the “Stay in the Know” box on the lower right hand side.  If you decide you don’t like it, you can unsubscribe any time.


Stay Snappy!




  1. Ronald Bradley on April 15, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Don’t surprise me. I vaguely remember work being done on it when young. The sides of the bridge use to be open and not one solid piece. Also what do people expect years of neglect. It’s the same with anything. Pay a little to maintain or a lot later on to replace.

  2. Al Cavasin on April 15, 2020 at 5:56 pm


    Very, very true! The inspector told me that particular bridge was built in 1929! 1929!!! And I don’t think it’s been touched since. I know it hasn’t been touched since I’ve lived here in 1980. The issue is: what do we do now? I’ll be talking to JCDOT soon (hopefully) and will kee you all posted.

    • Ronald Bradley on April 15, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Al it I think was over 55 years ago I use to go to Albion with my mom when she went to work at Cornniing Glass the ride back home with my dad and it was having work done on it.

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