Local Viewpoint: Benefits for safer bridge on M-65

We don’t blame the Alpena County Road Commission for being upset.

Nor do we fault Michigan Department of Transportation officials for determining the detour they did for the M-65 bridge work over the Thunder Bay River.

The detour was the focus of discussion this week at the road commission, as many motorists – including trucks – are choosing alternative routes that carry them over road surfaces never intended for sustained traffic.

As a result, county officials feared faster deterioration of those road surfaces. Residents feared living in dust all summer. And everyone involved feared safety concerns the extra traffic would create in those areas.

MDOT officials have a detour in place while the bridge construction is being done, but it is longer than the “back roads” route motorists familiar with the area can opt for instead. Because the “back roads” route is not the official MDOT detour, no state funds can be used on it for things like grading, gravel or dust control.

Road commission members this week approved no truck traffic regulations on many of the “back roads” being used as a detour to curb further deterioration of those surfaces.

We believe the action is a good effort. We also urge law enforcement to patrol those roads a little more frequently in the weeks ahead and issue tickets when appropriate. If that is done, we believe it would help to decrease traffic on the secondary roads.

We all will benefit from a safer bridge when the work is completed this fall. Until then, let’s work together to make the best of a frustrating situation.