Road Commission Moving Forward with Boardman River Motorists Crossing

Crossing PlansThe process to add a bridge for motorists crossing the Boardman River is 30 years in the making. Now, the Grand Traverse Road Commission says motorists on South Airport Road are one step closer to getting some relief on the roadway.

Wednesday, the road commission announced they’re moving forward with plans on a new bridge for motorists. The bridge will cross the Boardman River at Hartman and Hammond Roads. The Director of the Grand Traverse Road Commission, Brad Kluczynski says they took a lot of things into account including the environmental impact of the bridge.

The first attempt at building a motorist bridge over the Boardman River was over 30 years ago. County Officials agreed to plans, but were never able to get federal funding. This time the process started in the 2017 when road commissioners began surveying the area for possible locations. The process of conducting studies and narrowing down locations didn’t officially begin until the Fall of 2020.

“A lot of people that have been around the area have said, ‘you know we’ve been talking about this for a long time, we’re trying to get this done, but why is it taking so long,'” Kluczynski says. “Well it is a really involved process and it’s a federal process that we have to go through so we can get federal monies to help fund this bridge.”

The road commission chose from three possible locations including Cass Road and Sabin Dam. Hartman and Hammond Roads are the closest to South Airport Road and are the least damaging to the environment. “What it it came down to is we really ran into a lot of environmental issues that really kind of took the Sabin Dam and the Cass Road crossing out,” Kluczynski claims.

Although the Hartman-Hammond Crossing will cost the most to construct, it will clear up traffic at South Airport Road. Kluczynski says the bridge will be much higher than what was proposed 30 years ago. He says the bridges height will lead to less of an impact on nature. The Hartman-Hammond Crossing shows traffic on South Airport Road will decrease 37% by 2045. The new bridge would also lead to a 2% decrease of traffic on Grandview Parkway. Kluczynski says it’s a substantial reduction in traffic and will accommodate increased travel and tourism in the area.

“We’re talking about 20,000 cars being on this bridge when it’s actually at it’s peak level for the 2045 forecast,” Kluczynski explains.

Boardman Crossing Traffic ModelingThe road commission is moving forward with the Hartman-Hammond Crossings proposal. MDOT, EPA and the DNR say Hartman-Hammond is the locally acceptable alternative.  They say due to difficulty, environmental and other issues the Cass Road and Sabin Dam Crossings are officially nixed from consideration.

“We’re very happy that we’ve come to this. We’ve got a good viable preliminary design,” Kluczynski says. “We know what we want to accomplish and we feel like this project would accomplish it,” Kluczynski continues.

The road commission will now collect public comment and present their proposal to the Board of Commissioners. They then need to make sure the plans fall within the guidelines of the National Environmental Policy Act — which could take years.