Friday, February 26, 2010

A Bridge to Nowhere?

Okay, so this doesn’t have anything to do with veterinary medicine. However, it does have a big impact on my daily practice, so I thought it worthy of comment here. One of the challenges with ambulatory practice is the amount of time I spend staring out my windshield. It seems West Michigan is about to get their own version of a bridge to nowhere. But, in this case I think it’s a good thing. Let me explain.

Our practice area here in West Michigan is bisected by the scenic Grand River. This river is a significant treasure for our area. However, it also provides a tremendous geographical obstacle for those of us who traverse West Michigan on regular basis. The reason the river is such a nuisance to negotiate is because, as the crow flies, it is a little over 14 miles between the bridge in Grand Haven and the bridge in Eastmanville. As my truck flies, it is just short of 20 miles. This accounts for the longest stretch (by a long shot) between any two bridges spanning the river banks. The problem is further compounded by the bascule bridge in Grand Haven. That’s okay, I didn’t know that that means it’s draw bridge either. That bridge has a longstanding reputation for trouble. It is not uncommon for it to get ‘stuck’ open. In such situation, the alternate route means a detour through Eastmanville. If you haven’t been through Eastmanville, it really is a nice drive. My attitude is usually a little different during the week, when on I’m on my way to a call.

MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) announced this week that they intend to start construction later this year or early next, on the long debated new bridge just west of 120th Ave. If you are not familiar with the area, that crossing is just about halfway between the bridges at Eastmanville and Grand Haven. But before you get too excited about a new back way through the county, it seems that the project will be just the bridge, and will not include any actual roads to it. So apparently, when it is done, no one will actually be able to drive over it. Federal funds have been apportioned for the bridge, but not for the roads to actually get to the bridge. That funding supposedly will come from the state, at some future date. With the current fiscal state of affairs in Michigan, I wonder when and how that will happen. I suppose that either way, with such a project, someone has to act first. The state would likely never build the roads to a bridge that is not there. So the bridge project is going forward with federal funding in hopes that some day the state will be able to provide access to this bridge. But for now, it sounds a little like a bridge to nowhere.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I have a bridge for sale, It goes over the senic Grand River.... however you can just walk over it:) I can see it now.