It will be about four years before the $16.2 million multiphase project is completed. Residents were primarily interested in when the project would begin, how long it would take to complete, how traffic would be handled during construction, how much it will cost and who is paying for it.
Wayne County is building the bridge and paying for it, said Ronald Agacinski, the county's assistant engineering director. Participating partners in the project are Canadian National Railway Co., the city and the federal government. The federal government is expected to pay about $9.6 million through a transportation spending bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-15th District). The city has committed $4 million to the project, and Canadian National will pay about $900,000. That leaves a shortfall of about $1.7 million.
Because work has begun on the project, the committed money is secure, Agacinski said. To cover the $1.7-million shortfall, county officials are looking at state and federal grants, he said. Funding also is being sought for aesthetic treatments and enhancements.
Although it's a four-year project, construction will take about two years, said Kenneth Kucel, Wayne County engineering director. All entities in the project are working together, he said. Before the road is closed for construction, the county will be sure police and fire officials have alternate routes and plans for serving the entire city.
"We will not put shovels in the ground without knowing," Kucel said. "It will be part of the process, developing contingency plans. This is in the very preliminary stages."
Right now, the plans are to keep Van Horn Road open and to build one pedestrian walkway on the east side of the bridge. However, that could change, officials said.
"The Flat Rock yard is the busiest railroad yard in Michigan," said Steven Gravlin, Wade Trim senior vice president. "It's the busiest yard because we're shipping all the (Ford) F-150s from here. It's good for us we're shipping the F-150s here, but bad for us they are shipping from here."
The first step, a feasibility study, has been completed, Agacinski said. During that phase, three options were considered - building the road under the tracks, building the road over the tracks or doing nothing, he said. The underpass was selected because it was the most cost-efficient. Road and bridge construction isn't expected to begin until the middle of 2011, and is expected to take about two years.
Before the construction can begin, the project has to be designed. The design phase is expected to start next year and take about one year to complete. Once a design is approved, the utilities will have to be moved, which is a massive part of the project, officials said. Many underground utilities run parallel to railroad tracks, Gravlin said.
Also, Allen Road is a major utility corridor and that complicates the project, which is scheduled to begin in 2011. Some of the utilities will be permanently relocated and others will be moved temporarily for the project, officials said. Once the utilities are relocated, construction on the road and bridge will begin.