Archived Story

‘Significant’ bridge needs cited

Published 9:43pm Monday, April 22, 2013



CASSOPOLIS — Money is still needed before a historic bridge in Centreville can be moved to Crystal Spring Street over the Dowagiac River southwest of the city, according to Road Commission Manager Christopher Bolt.


A public hearing on the M-86 bridge took place April 11.


“It’s historic and has been moved once already,” Bolt said. “It’s got a lot of life left in it. Unfortunately, despite MDOT’s help, we still need about $300,000 to $400,000. Otherwise, Crystal Springs won’t see a new bridge for about 20 years.


“Today, our board filed a resolution for a $150,000 grant. What I’m trying to say is that our needs for bridge and culvert repairs in the county are significant.”


County Administrator Louis Csokasy underscored the county’s concern


 “If a bridge goes down, it will stay down at least two years,” Csokasy said. “We apply every year, but there is no state funding or they wouldn’t be asking for $1.2 billion to fix the problem.”


Cass County commissioners Thursday night approved release of $100,000 from the bridge fund to reimburse projects completed in 2012.


Commissioners set aside the money in February 2012, intending to spend $55,000 on the Sink Road bridge, which has been on hold for Bureau of Indian Affairs review.


Meanwhile, the Cass County Road Commission reported, the Redfield bridge was replaced for more than $900,000 with a $764,298 grant from the critical bridge program.


There was a public ribbon-cutting in October.


May Street’s culvert underwent emergency repair for $25,647.


Road Commission’s share for these two urgent projects came to $215,397.


Bolt, Dowagiac’s former public services director, used a series of graphs for a synopsis of transportation funding.


Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) revenues peaked at about $5 million in 2004 and have been steadily eroding since to about $4.4 million for 2012.


“The $1.2 billion proposal the governor put forward in his State of the State address would actually double this budget and catch us up to where we should have been with inflation,” Bolt said, adding that cash on hand stands at about $1 million Oct. 1, rather than the $1.4 million recommended.


Internal adjustments should add $138,000.


Bolt said the five-member road commission has “turned a corner” by continuing Csokasy’s approach, including a partnership with St. Joseph County, from mechanics to accounting.


Improving morale


Chairman Skip Dyes, R-Calvin Township, asked what “culture change” meant at the road commission.


“We continue to work with our employees to improve morale,” Bolt said. “We created a process for employee input and feedback.


WICs are “workplace improvement committees,” which meet in small groups of five to eight to explore implementing creative ideas which reach managers from the shop floor.








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