Rapid response to a critical bridge condition in Bainbridge Township has saved the bridge and those traveling over it from potentially more serious issues, just in time for the critical recent harvest season in that area.
The Berrien County Road Commission recently wrapped up repair work on a large, and unique, four-cell timber culvert carrying Hill Road over Mill Creek. Highway bridges and culverts over 20 feet in length, like the Hill Road over Mill Creek structure, are inspected for safety and load carrying capacity regularly.
During the latest inspection, the bridge inspector observed cracks in the timbers of the ceiling of the 38-year-old culvert. Those cracks required the Berrien County Road Department (BCRD) to restrict the size and weight of vehicles crossing over the culvert until repairs could be made.
Berrien County Road Department’s Managing Director, Jason Latham, knew that would present a problem for local farmers who would soon need to harvest their crops for the season. Working with The Kercher Group and Scott Civil Engineering Company, the Berrien County Road Department developed an action plan. After a team meeting, it was decided to design steel repair plates to strengthen the cracked timbers. The repair plates were manufactured by BCRD staff in their maintenance shop and installed within a week, allowing the load carrying capacity to be restored enabling safe travel for first responders, the traveling public and farmers.
Latham says, “The repairs made to the Hill Road Bridge have enabled the bridge rating to go from poor to fair. This work will provide support to local agricultural businesses, emergency vehicles and school buses that need to use this bridge. The Road Department is lucky to have such a capable workforce to quickly respond to critical safety needs like this.”