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New bridge over the Dead River drawing a lot of attention, but be careful

October 4, 2010
By JOHN PEPIN Journal Staff Writer

NEGAUNEE - Marquette County Road Commission officials are urging motorists and pedestrians to "watch out for the other guy" while using the new Marquette County Road 510 bridge over the Dead River.

The bridge towering 100 feet above the river opened about two weeks ago and has attracted a great deal of attention, especially with the views and current fall color opportunities afforded from the span.

"We're still under construction out there," said Jim Iwanicki, engineer-manager of the Marquette County Road Commission. "Officially, we won't have that project finished until the end of the month."

Article Photos

Numerous pedestrians and motorists stopped to enjoy the view from the new Marquette County Road 510 bridge over the Dead River in Negaunee Township on Sunday. County road commission officials are urging caution on the span while construction work in the area continues until the end of the month. (John Pepin photo)

The $4.5-million project is moving forward with Lunda Construction of Black River Falls, Wis., as the prime contractor on the job. The completion date for the project is Nov. 1.

Sunday, numerous spectators walked along the bridge with many stopping to take photographs. Some vehicles also stopped while crossing the span.

Iwanicki said "no parking" signs will be posted on the bridge, along with signs warning motorists to watch for pedestrians. Lane lines, including a pedestrian shoulder, will be painted on the bridge. Iwanicki said the road commission is working with Negaunee Township to alleviate some of the parking congestion problems by creating a pocket park parking lot along the southeast side of the road.

Work on that parking lot is continuing, and is expected to be part of the work completed by the end of the month, Iwanicki said.

The new bridge was constructed about 300 yards upstream from an aging bridge that has stood there since 1921. The old bridge, which sits 10 feet above the river, will remain in place for pedestrian traffic. Construction crews had to open the new bridge to divert traffic from the old bridge, before turnarounds at the old span could be completed, Iwanicki said.

That's the reason the new bridge has opened with work still ongoing on the project.

"The alternative is keeping everything closed and we're not physically able to do that right now," Iwanicki said. "We're asking pedestrians and drivers to proceed with caution and watch out for the other guy while this work continues."

Iwanicki said previously the bridge was designed to be higher than the old bridge in case any of the dams along the Dead River were breached or broken and also for economic reasons. With the new road alignment, it made more sense to have the bridge be high above the river than to spend a great deal of money for fill work.

The bridge project is being paid for by critical bridge funds, including 80 percent contributed in federal money, 15 percent in state and 5 percent matched by the road commission.

Wilcox Professional Services of downstate Cadillac and Farmington Hills designed the bridge. The project has been in development for the past decade or so.

In October 2007, Oberstar Inc. of Marquette began work on the approaches to the new bridge. That work was completed in November 2008 for an additional $1.7 million.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His e-mail address is



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