Ribbon cut at Redfield landingPublished 6:17pm Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Redfield Street’s bridge is back better than ever, boasting a new boat launch and a predicted century lifespan.
New Cass County and St. Joseph County Road Commission Manager Christopher Bolt, former Dowagiac public services director, said the original span across Christiana Creek in eastern Ontwa Township was constructed in 1959 of timber and five square barrels, each spanning 4 1/2 feet.
Overall, the structure measured 23.5 feet long and 36 feet wide.
That bridge shut in 2009 after an inspection detected deficiencies from 2008 flooding. The road commission completed underwater repairs so the bridge could reopen that October with a restricted weight limit, 20 tons.
The county then pursued replacement funds through the Michigan Department of Transportation’s critical bridge program.
Bolt said DLZ Michigan Inc., represented by Vice President Gary Fisk, was design consultant on the project.
The contract was awarded to J.E. Kloote Contracting Inc. in April. Construction started May 25. Traffic began crossing again on Sept. 13.
“This was done in a remarkably short time,” Bolt said. “Eighty percent of the money comes through federal highway sources, with 15 percent from (MDOT) and 5 percent from the road commission.”
The $804,524 bid made for a 95 percent grant of $764,298 and a $40,226 local share.
“This bridge enhances safety,” Bolt said. “It’s 10 feet wider, a guardrail approach keeps errant vehicles from veering from the roadway and, at 55 feet long, twice the span of the original. It has an integral concrete deck with box beams underneath, which is tried and true. The boat launch constructed for $33,413 was made possible by the donation of a half-acre parcel for parking donated by George Bucklen,” great-great grandson of pioneer George Redfield.
Redfield arrived in 1835. He and his brother purchased 10,000 acres and served as federal land grant agents.
Bucklen, a kayaker and Christiana Creek Coalition vice president who lives in Bristol, still owns 440 of Redfield’s 800 acres along Adamsville Road and Redfield.
Redfield (1796-1887), one of Ontwa’s first supervisors, was an author of the state constitution in 1850 and served as state treasurer, secretary of state, state representative and state senator.
Bucklen said, “This is a public waterway bordered by private lands. I hope all users remember this and work to maintain this clean, scenic environment.”
Bolt said the two counties shared engineering services. The project team included: Joseph Bellina, chief engineer; Rick Bruens, engineering technician; Chris Minger, project manager; and Don Preston, engineering technician.
Bolt acknowledged the “integral role” former manager Louis Csokasy played before becoming county administrator.
“This is the second time we’ve had citizenry step up and do something,” said Leroy Krempec, road commission chairman. “The first was when we had a bridge out on North Shore Drive at the back side of Painter Lake. Without Kirkdorfers donating half the expense, it might still be closed.”
Christiana Creek, which drains 96 miles of watershed into the St. Joseph River, was named for the Rev. Isaac McCoy’s wife, who passed through in 1822 enroute to Niles.