Putnam Drive bridge closed indefinitely

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 22, 2016

 The underside of the bridge shows the severely rusted bridge beams, including one that is now only partially attached to the structure.

The underside of the bridge shows the severely rusted bridge beams, including one that is now only partially attached to the structure.

Photo provided by the Road Commission for Oakland County


The Road Commission for Oakland County has closed the Putnam Drive bridge over Walnut Lake canal indefinitely due to severe deterioration, the commission announced Jan. 22.

Public Information Officer Craig Bryson said the bridge, which sits north of Walnut Lake Road and west of Inkster Road, was inspected Jan. 20. Engineers reported that the support beams are badly rusted, and one is detached from the structure. Inspectors also found holes in the deck, he said.

Barrels had previously been placed on both sides of the bridge to prevent people from driving on the outside of the bridge; however, upon inspection, the barrels were missing and likely went into the water, Bryson said.

Oakland County bridges that are in good shape are inspected by engineers every four years. If a problem is reported, a bridge is inspected every two years, and if additional problems are found, then the bridge is inspected every year. In extreme cases, a bridge can be placed on a six-month inspection schedule, Bryson said.

The Putnam Drive bridge, which was constructed in 1931, was on a one-year inspection schedule since November 2011. Due to the amount of deterioration, Bryson said, the commission chose to close the bridge immediately in lieu of placing it on a six-month schedule.

“It’s old, and we’ve been watching it for a number of years as it gradually deteriorated,” Bryson said. “The inspection was done Jan. 20, and we responded immediately because it was a pretty dire report.”

Marshall Labadie, West Bloomfield Township development services director, said the RCOC notified the township that the bridge was deteriorating, but township officials were not expecting the closure this soon.

“Just like the residents, we’re a little surprised on the immediacy of the closure, but it’s a county road, and (the RCOC has) the information that it’s no longer safe,” Labadie said. 

“The township board will have to figure out if there’s something we can do or not on this.”

While the closure will be inconvenient for residents, there are alternative routes in the subdivision that residents can use, Labadie said. But how long the bridge will be closed is unknown because at this time, there are no specific plans to fix the bridge.

The commission will continuing to talk with the township about funding and future plans, but nothing has been decided, Bryson said.

Those with questions or concerns are asked to contact the Road Commission for Oakland County at (248) 645-2000.