Design costs for the replacement of Bridge 31.7 along the Paint Creek have been completely covered thanks to two recent grants.

Design costs for the replacement of Bridge 31.7 along the Paint Creek have been completely covered thanks to two recent grants.

Photo provided by the Paint Creek Trailways Commission

Design underway for Paint Creek Trail bridge replacement in Rochester

Paint Creek Trailways Commission receives $50,000 grant to cover design costs

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 15, 2022


ROCHESTER — The Paint Creek Trailways Commission has been awarded a $50,000 grant to cover design engineering for the replacement of Bridge 31.7 along the Paint Creek Trail, just north of downtown Rochester.

The grant — through Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan — is the second awarded for the project. In April, the city of Rochester received a $25,000 grant for design engineering costs — this time from the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission.

“We’re combining the two grants to be able to pay for the design engineering to replace the bridge,” Paint Creek Trailways Manager Melissa Ford said. “It covers the entire cost of the design process for us.”

A 2016 inspection of the bridge — which is north of Ludlow and crosses the Paint Creek — by the city of Rochester’s engineers noted extensive decay of the bridge’s structural components.

“It’s a nearly 100-year-old bridge that was originally used for the railroad and then was converted to a pedestrian bridge in the ’80s when the trail opened, so it has some structural issues,” Ford explained.

Right now, Ford said, the bridge is load-restricted, so heavy vehicles cannot cross it.

“A new bridge will allow emergency vehicles to be able to cross it and maintenance vehicles for the city of Rochester, when they are doing work. We will be making it wider to accommodate those vehicles, and also meet (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements,” she said.

Not only is the bridge itself old and having some structural issues, Ford said, but the way it was originally designed — with piers in the water — causes logs to get stuck, especially in the spring, negatively affecting the creek’s fish habitat.

“The piers in the creek cause these nuisance log jams in the creek, which can affect the fisheries habitat. The pressure from that can affect the structural integrity of the bridge, cause erosion of the Paint Creek and can restrict the passage of fish in the Paint Creek,” she explained.

Officials said the grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Fund for Design and Access is crucial to completing the design engineering for the replacement of Bridge 31.7, which is a critical element in the Paint Creek Trailways Commission’s Recreation Master Plan.

“This grant enables the Trailways Commission and its partners to design the necessary infrastructure needed to sustain the trail and bridge’s integrity, well into the future. This will help the Paint Creek Trail continue to be a trail that gathers families together for generations to come,” Paint Creek Trailways Commission Chairperson Donni Steele said in a statement.

The Friends of the Paint Creek Trail, a nonprofit organization created to give trail users the opportunity to help plan for the future of the trail and to assist with the stewardship of the trail, has also committed $1,051 in funds for the project.

The design process for the new bridge is currently underway, with work being done on geotechnical investigations and soil boring, according to Ford.

“The city of Rochester’s engineering firm is working on the design as we speak,” she said.

The city and the Trailways Commission are now hoping to secure grant funding for the construction phase of the project.

“Once the design is completed and we have funding in hand, the project will go out to bid and, hopefully, construction would start in mid to late spring of 2024,” Ford said.

For more information, contact Paint Creek Trail Manager Melissa Ford at (248) 651-9260.