Bridge replacement to impact I-196 travel

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Photo by iStock

A bridge replacement project this fall will impact travel along I-196 in Grand Rapids.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is set to begin a $100 million full structure replacement of the eastbound and westbound I-196 bridges at Market Avenue SW over the Grand River.

Closure of the eastbound section will be in effect from October 2022 to July 2024. During this time, traffic will be able to exit at Market Avenue SW as well as enter at the Lake Michigan Drive NW and First Street NW ramps.

A suggested detour will take traffic onto eastbound M-6 and then to northbound U.S. 131.

Following completion of the eastbound bridge, the westbound I-196 bridge will close from August 2024 to November 2025. Two lanes of travel for eastbound and westbound traffic will remain open on the new eastbound bridge during this phase of the project.

According to MDOT officials, the goal of the bridge replacement is to increase overall safety of the bridges, which were constructed in 1961. This coincides with the Federal Highway Administration’s statewide initiative to replace scour critical bridge foundations by 2038.

A scour critical bridge is one with abutment or pier foundations which are rated as unstable.

“The bridges are approaching the end of service life,” said Mike Wilson, Grand Rapids Transportation Service Center project manager for MDOT. “We want to be able to increase the safety of the overall bridge assets and increase the long-term reliability of the corridor.”

Proposed plans for reconstruction include seven spans for each structure, three traffic lanes for each direction and full shoulders along the bridges. The work will involve aggregate causeways placed in the Grand River.

Due to the project’s location at the river, officials are obtaining a permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and will adhere to environmental regulations. This includes relocation of endangered mussels and pausing work that will impact the river bottom from mid-April to June each year.

The project is made possible by funding from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Rebuilding Michigan program.

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