By Mike Kruzman /

Hamburg Township officials have authorized an early exploratory evaluation on the potential replacement of a troubled bridge in the township.

The Lakelands Trail Walking Bridge is a 129-foot by 12-foot timber railroad bridge with a wood deck and railing for pedestrian and bicycle traffic over the Huron River. Small pier spacing has caused more and more frequent debris obstruction, largely in the form of cattail floats, particularly during flood events.

At their meeting earlier this month, the Hamburg Township Board of Trustees discussed hiring Stantec Consulting Michigan to provide preliminary engineering services for assistance with the evaluation of the potential bridge’s replacement.

Supervisor Pat Hohl discussed with Trustees about the scope of work Stantec would perform. The report would review the potential hydraulic impact, review potential construction concerns, discuss EGLE and MDNR agency requirements, recommend next steps, research potential funding sources, and give a conceptual cost estimate. The total cost of work for this proposal was set not to exceed $11,500.

There was some concern with trustees that this wasn’t getting them more concrete engineering information. Hohl estimated that if they did replace the bridge, it could cost between $1-million to $1.5-million, and would probably take 3 years to get grant funded and installed. Even with grant funding, Hohl said the township will presumable still have to come up with a portion of the cost. There was hope from the Board that should they decide to go that route, that American Rescue Plan Act funds might be able to go towards it to help bring the cost down.

The Board didn’t appear strongly set on going down the replacement path, though. They recently hired a contractor to clear the debris from under the bridge for $3,500, with Hohl Trustee Chuck Menzies appearing impressed with the cleaning that was done.

Ultimately, the Board voted in favor of going forward with Stantec by a 5-2 vote. Treasurer Jason Negri and Clerk Mike Dolan voted against.