Drivers over Ten Mile Road shared the bridge at the Rogue River with Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) crews Thursday, Sept. 16 to Thursday, Sept. 23 as the bridge received an evaluation and some patching.
An unusual piece of equipment may have caught the eye of passersby as KCRC staff were lowered under the bridge for a closer look and to apply the patching material. Wayne Harroll, of the KCRC, said the vehicle on the bridge for those days is known in the industry as a “snooper truck” but is actually a Truck Mounted Bridge Inspection Unit that Kent County leases as need requires. The vehicle came to Rockford after the KCRC used it to do some repairs at the Knapp Street and Jupiter Avenue bridges over the Grand River.
“Our bridges are in decent shape, although all of them need maintenance,” said Harroll.
As news reports decry the terrible state of roads and bridges across Michigan and much of the United States, Kent County’s are an exception. According to Harroll, aggressive campaigns in the county in the 1970s and ‘80s resulted in the replacement of dilapidated bridge components.
“A lot of our old steel truss bridges were replaced,” Harroll said. He noted that the only remaining bridge that is not up to legal weight is the Fallasburg covered bridge in Lowell. Instead of the normal eight- or nine-ton capacity, the Fallasburg bridge has a posted limit of three tons.
The 1800s-era Fallasburg bridge was left because of its historic nature, one of only three covered bridges in Michigan, and because a newer bridge is located just up the river.
“If it was a safety issue, we’d replace it,” Harroll said. “The Historic Society would not like us to replace that bridge.”