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A new pilot program by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been launched to streamline and bundle bridge projects together to make them more cost-effective and save taxpayer money. The program is getting underway in March with an initial round of 19 bridges set to be rebuilt this construction season.

The bridge bundling pilot project, the first of its kind in Michigan, encompasses 19 bridges owned by local agencies. MDOT expects bridge bundling, which covers several bridge locations under one contract, to streamline coordination and permitting, increase economies of scale, and improve bridge conditions on local routes around the state. MDOT is working to expand the approach, already in use on state trunkline projects, to address locally owned bridges.

Of the 19 bridges to be rebuilt this year, 18 are in southern Michigan. The remaining bridge is on Dollarville Road, just outside of Newberry. Work on this bridge is scheduled to begin August 15 and be completed within 60 days.

During work, all bridges will be closed and detoured as requested by the local agencies. The projects will stay largely within the existing bridge ”footprints” with minor road work to accommodate new bridge elevations or changes in cross-section to meet current geometric requirements.

The public has a new tool to track the initiative. An online dashboard at Michigan.gov/BridgeBundling will provide project updates and show percent completion, detour routes, and other information for each of these projects. MDOT expects to provide photos during the construction process, as well.

By combining several contracts into one, bridge bundling allows one contractor, or one group of contractors, to work on multiple bridges in several locations, simultaneously, if needed. This can bring taxpayer savings through the standardization of bridge components and mobilization costs. The contract for the pilot program was awarded last year when local agencies and MDOT collaborated on the design and coordination of the project with a joint venture of two bridge contractors, C.A. Hull and Anlaan, for the low bid of $24.3 million. Alfred Benesch & Co. was the lead design firm.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration awarded MDOT nearly $978,000 to further its bridge bundling efforts on local agency routes, developing a framework for expanding the program. This grant was one of only seven awarded nationwide.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer worked with the legislature to invest $196 million in federal funding in a Fiscal Year 2021 supplemental for the next phase of the bridge bundling program. With this funding, the state can rebuild another 50 bridges or more, addressing bridges prioritized as critical to regional mobility and safety.