Port Huron to apply for bridge repair grant

By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald

Port Huron officials are thinking ahead.

With Michigan Department of Transportation wrapping up maintenance and updates to the Military Street Bridge, the city is looking for money for the next round of repairs to the Seventh and 10th Street drawbridges.

That work likely won’t happen before the winter of 2018-19.

City Engineer Bob Clegg said the city is coming up with rough estimates for the bridge projects.

“There would be some mechanical repairs, but nothing to the extent that we have seen in the past,” Clegg said. “The length of time should be less, but until we have the design we won’t know. Will there be some disruption? Yes.”

In the meanwhile, the city plans to apply for a Local Bridge Program grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation. The application deadline for 2018 funding is May 4.

If approved, federal funds would cover 80 percent of the work. The state would cover 15 percent and the city have to pay 5 percent.

“We won’t be able to spend any of those grant funds for three years, so we have to be proactive on what we want repaired,” he said. “We can begin design. We could also pay for costs now and have the program reimburse the city later. However, if the city does not want to pay interest, they would have to wait the three years.”

The city would learn whether it will receive the grant in November.

Applications are evaluated by a regional committee that includes representatives from Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties.

Clegg the regional committee lessens state and federal involvement.

“It’s the actual representative engineers of local government who make this decision,” he said. “The great thing about this program is that the funding is earmarked for local road agencies and the decision is made by fellow local road agencies.”

Port Huron has used money from the local bridge program before.

In 2000, the city received $5.2 million to rehabilitate the 10th Street Bridge. In 2008, the city used $11 million for work on the Seventh Street Bridge.

The grant program receives about 200 applications for bridge projects each year. With about $40 million available in funding, Clegg said the grant program can be very competitive.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 30, 2015)

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