Take a Look Inside the Charlevoix Bascule Bridge

Every day the people of Charlevoix and its surrounding areas rely on the bascule bridge to get around.

When the bridge goes down it causes major issues, and MDOT says they are working to make sure those issues come to a standstill. 

“We understand that there is no good alternative when the bridge is in a stuck up position and blocked to vehicular traffic because we know there’s a 67 mile detour on state highways,” said James Lake, an MDOT Communications Representative for the North Region.

The Charlevoix Bridge has had its share of issues. Malfunctions have caused the bridge to be closed to traffic in 2013, 2015, 2017 and several times this year.

MDOT has a special state-wide crew who services their bridges. They work from the moment the malfunction occurs.

“We’re already on it we got the call we’ll have our first responders on site we’ll have our experts in Lansing either on route or on the phone,” said Brandon Boatman, an MDOT Region Bridge Engineer.

It takes a lot of mechanical and electrical systems to make sure the bridge opens and closes properly. It’s a complexity that makes finding the malfunction difficult, and can make the repair process long.

“When there is an error with our electronically components, this room moves with the bridge so to get to this door and to be able to fix this problem with it in the air is virtually impossible,” said Bob Helsel, an MDOT Maintenance Supervisor.

MDOT says replacing the bridge would cost more than $60 million and take at least two years, so their focus is on maintenance.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest at this point to keep this bridge in as good as shape as possible to keep it reliably opening and closing so that we don’t have to replace,” Lake said.