Updates on the Patterson Bridge Replacement

There was a good turnout, and last night’s meeting was yet another example of our elected folks listening to the desires (within reason, of course) of their constituents. The Informational Meeting set up by Mark Englerth, included Russ Yarger, Barry Drain Commissioner; and Dan Fredricks, Project Engineer. I’m just going to touch on some points brought up, and some dates for construction, since much of the information given has already been covered.

The all-important Timeline:

Bridge replacement will be in April/May, with Dan promising there will be a construction deadline of perhaps May 20th, so that summer traffic around the lake will not be affected. He even proposed a “late penalty” if the bridge is not completed by the desired date.  He said to expect detours for approximately 1 to 2 weeks, while the bridge is out.  (Deb’s note: The Road Commission will detour to paved roads, which in our case will be all the way west to 6th St.  If you don’t know where 1st St and 127th Ave are, I suggest you learn soon, because that gravel road will be a MUCH faster, shorter detour.  While you’re there – take a gander at the new bridge on 1st St: that’s what will be done at Patterson and it’s really nice!)

Upstream Improvements in Allegan County will go on all summer-of-2016 long.  This will include replacement of  failing culverts that are creating erosion; plus stabilizing eroded spots with rip-rap (rocks).  The upstream Sediment Trap will be reopened (and is projected to catch 90% of the sand that might be carried downstream); and a debris barrier erected.  There will also be an additional “sump” on the east side of Patterson, that will help catch more sediment.  The idea is to be able to remove any sediment from the ground using a land-based excavator, NOT to resort to the more expensive dredging.  While I’m thinking of it – a huge (((hug))) is due for Mrs Pam (Lettinga) VanDenArk, who has made her property available as the place to put the sand/sediment dredged.  Without a place to put that, we’d be out of luck.  I’d say “up a creek without a paddle” – but in our case, it would be more like “can’t get up the creek because there’s a sand island in the way”.

Dredging the Cuddy and Island Dr Channels:  There’s a lot of prep work that will need to be done prior to dredging.  Since there’s no way an excavator/digger can traverse all our front yards along the channel, the dredging will be done hydraulically from a barge floating in the channel, and the water/sediment sucked up by the dredger will be pumped to the “Spoils Containment” area west of Patterson.  That is a LOOOONG way to pump anything; and that infrastructure needs to be in place first.  That groundwork will be done in the summer months, so that dredging can begin in the September/October time frame.  The hope is that most folks will have their boats out by then; and hopefully boat lifts, too.  If someone has a structure that can’t be removed, and they wish to have sediment removed from that area, they will have to figure out a way to blow/dig the sediment out into the channel for the dredger to capture.  The machinery will NOT be able to snake in and out of boat slips.  As we get closer to that date, there will be more informational meetings.  Pat Gillespie has graciously offered to be a neighborhood outreach sort of person to help keep everyone informed.  Pat – you are AWESOME!

Paying for all this:

Not much has changed – we’re still looking at a $1.2 million-dollar project.  When the bids for construction come in, we’ll have a better idea of the price, but Dan says he’s comfortable with those numbers which have a 10% contingency built into them.  The Allegan Road commission stepped up and offered to pay for half of the bridge cost (Hugs to them!); and some of the other entities who will pick up part of the tab will be the Barry Road Commission; both counties; and both townships.  The portion that will be assessed to the Barry County/ Cuddy Drain District residents has been *guessed* to be between $5000 and $10,000 per parcel, with that spread over a 10 yr (maybe even 15 yr) time period.  But some residents won’t be assessed for the dredging, for example, if they don’t live on the channel.  In my opinion, the assessments have been divided very fairly, by who stands to benefit the most (or, who created the most problem).

As we get closer to completion, every drainage district resident will be sent a letter showing their assessed amount, and a Day of Review will be set for those who wish to tell Russ that they’d “like to pay more, please” (just kidding!).   Needless to say, those who live on the Cuddy Channel are going to get whacked the hardest, because dredging a channel for navigational purposes is NOT a function of the Drain Commissioner.  Those residents get to pick up the tab for the whole $300,000+ enchilada.  Dan and Russ said the numbers should be finalized around Christmas 2015?

“Guarantee of performance”.  The last time the Cuddy Channel was dredged, it didn’t go so well.  Dan assured the crowd that THIS time, the contractor who wins the bid will be licensed and bonded.  The dredging will be guided by GPS and something called bathymetric scanning (or something like that).  The new channel will have a 20′ wide bottom that is 5′ deep.  Period.

Celebrate.  This whole project is going to test the patience of the Cuddy residents; yet they’ve remained resolute in their desires to fix the problems.  Even if it means coughing up a pile of money.  The people who attended last night’s meeting asked thoughtful, polite questions.  They answered some hypothetical questions asked by Mark, about how to allocate the assessments.  Once again, I feel that the people leading this project are listening to the wishes of the residents.  So maybe, when this whole project is over, we need to celebrate?  I will leave that to people who are good at organizing fun stuff; but I think a good “Block Party” will need to happen?  Or maybe a “Good Riddance” party when the channel’s ever-growing “island” finally gets dredged away 🙂


If you would like to see the Powerpoint presentation given by Dan Fredricks last night, click on this link:   Info Meeting Presentation

(Thanks to Deb Rousseau, Yankee Springs Twp, for getting this!)


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