Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Trestle bridge to remain closed, summer events kick-off successful

By Leslie Ballard

Infrastructure issues continue to be a major concern for the Allegan City Council, who spent most of the June 13 Study Session discussing the status of the trestle bridge near Jaycee Park.
The Council voted to close the bridge at their May 23rd meeting after reviewing some initial findings that indicated the bridge was unsafe, especially for vehicles. Scott Civil Engineering Company of Grand Rapids conducted a preliminary inspection of the old railroad trestle in Jaycee Park over the Kalamazoo River May 17, 2022 and submitted their report on June 1.
The construction date of the Trestle Bridge is unknown but based on the riveted construction of the steel girder, the date is likely before 1940. Tom Hunter wrote a grant that helped to convert it to a pedestrian bridge for public use.
Ryan Worden, who inspected the bridge, was present to respond to questions and provide clarification. Pier conditions under the water surface were not evaluated. A special inspection is required for this work.
In his report, Worden stated, “due to the widespread section loss to several pier caps, I recommend a maximum vehicle loading of ¼ ton. This is a condition judgment rating to restrict all vehicle traffic. It’s difficult to load rate for a specific amount of people and sign for compliance. Typically, we ask an agency to restrict events that could cause many people to gather on a bridge, such as charity walks, running events, firework shows, etc.”
“If the structure must remain open for pedestrian use, the caps have to be continually monitored for additional crushing. MDOT doesn’t have a set inspection frequency for pedestrian bridges. My suggestion is to monitor the caps monthly with a detailed inspection at least every 6 months. The monitoring can be done by city personnel. Pier caps can be replaced to raise the allowed loading. The repair will be costly due to the number of replacements and access to complete the work.”
Photographs that accompany the report show surface and internal rot with vegetation growing in caps and bolt holes and even a tree growing in a section of rotten pier. Some outer piles are rotted at the waterline. The report and photos are available in the Study Session packet at https://www.cityofallegan.org/government/city_council/agenda_and_minutes.php.
Some council members reported hearing complaints from citizens about the closing, but Dave Redding believes the Council has a “moral obligation” to ensure that people are aware of the dangers the bridge presents to pedestrians. Roger Byrd agreed saying, “if it collapsed and we hadn’t taken any action, I couldn’t live with myself.” Worden stated that it is a “critical condition bridge.”
During public comment during the regular meeting, a man who owns property adjacent to the bridge said the closure was “terrible.” The Council agreed but were unanimous in keeping the bridge closed until it could be repaired to ensure the safety of those using it.
The cost of the repair is unknown as an underwater inspection has not been done. In his report, Worden said that he estimated “the cost to be over $500,000 for the caps alone. Additional consideration should be made regarding the pile deterioration. The estimated cost to do a complete replacement with a prefabricated steel truss is around $1,300,000.” An engineering estimate would be necessary to determine an accurate total cost.
Redding also broached concerns about the safety of the Allegan Dam Powerhouse and the need to take action on that. The powerhouse and dam are deemed in such bad condition that insurers will not provide coverage. The dam, including the powerhouse, is slated for removal in the future as part of the riverfront improvement plan.
No trespassing signs will be posted on the trestle bridge and the powerhouse and catwalk at the dam.
As City Manager Joel Dye pointed out, “lots and lots of infrastructure in Allegan needs to be repaired or replaced.”
Allegan Players
Mason Hass, President of the Allegan Community Players, spoke of the group’s commitment to continuing to use the Griswold Auditorium for its performances and told the Council that the group would like to help with the maintenance of the Griswold as much as they could through donations of funding and time. Several council members thanked them for their continued partnership and for their offer of support. “It is greatly appreciated,” said Council member Bill Morgan.
Rezoning
During the regular meeting, the Council held a second reading and public hearing on ordinance 503 to rezone Parcel 03-51-251-041-00. The city owned property is currently vacant and has been sold to Allegan Area Education Service Agency. The master plan indicates this parcel and multiple parcels within this area to be rezoned to R-3, Multi-Family Residential. An R-2 Zoning would be compatible with surrounding uses and zoning districts. Upon the Planning Commission’s recommendation, the council voted 5 yea and 1 abstain to adopt the ordinance allowing the rezoning.
Reports
Four members presented committee/commission reports to the Council. Peter Hanse summarized the Airport Advisory Committee meeting minutes, citing the need for many trees to be removed, mostly on the west end of the airport, and the bids for crack seal and painting.
Redding reported that the Historic District Commission received 3 applications, one of which was tabled until more information is available. He stated that the HDC Study Group’s work is progressing according to their schedule. Mayor Delora Andrus asked that the group report formally to the whole board sometime during the summer, and Redding said he would discuss that with the group.
During the Public Spaces Commission meeting, some members of the public expressed dislike of the new rules for Oakwood Cemetery, so that a final decision was tabled by a vote of 4 to 3, according to Teresa Galloway. Mayor Andrus stated the need for a deadline on this item so that the Council could act, so the PSC is asked to provide the City Council with the finalized rules by August.
Mayor Andrus summarized the Downtown Development Authority meeting which dealt with the riverfront design and new signs for the downtown entrances. The Streetscapes bids are expected to be in by August so that the Council will have a better idea of costs before finalizing plans and reviewing funding options. Redding expressed concerns about the cost of the project and how it was reflected in the budget.
Finances
The City Council unanimously approved accounts payable in the amount of $466,485.90 and payroll in the amount of $224,975.25 for a total disbursement of $691,461.15.
The City Council adopted resolution 22.26 concerning 3rd Quarter budget adjustments. The report includes all adjustments through March 31, 2022 (as of April 18th) for fiscal year 2021/22. As of March 2021, the City of Allegan’s fund balance is $2,884,158 which represents 53% of the actual total General Fund (101) and Grants Fund (225) expenditures and transfers out for fiscal year 2021/22.
The City Council also adopted Resolution 22.27 to authorize the Finance Director to make 4th Quarter Budget Adjustments. After each fiscal year quarter, the Finance Department prepares the necessary budget adjustments that must be approved by City Council to ensure that the fiscal year ends within budget parameters.
Water Utilities
To protect the quality of Allegan’s drinking water, the City Council approved two, 2-year contracts with Hydro Corp. from Troy, MI. The contracts are for industrial cross connection inspections for an annual amount of $13,368.00 ($26,736.00 term of contract) and residential cross connection inspections for an annual amount of $8,376.00 ($16,752.00 term of contract). These amounts were approved in the 2023 budget.
The City of Allegan is required to inspect all water services for the requirement of a cross connection device (backflow preventer) that are connected to the city water system. Cross connection rules require that sites get inspected on a regular basis and that the backflow devices are tested and certified annually by a licensed technician. This includes all industrial, commercial, and residential users.
In previous years, some industrial and commercial users were inspected annually, and the city relied on the users to submit the required backflow testing certification. The state is now asking that all communities follow the rules more closely, perform inspections on a regular basis and collect and review the backflow device testing certification. This includes residential as well as industrial and commercial users.
Allegan Water Utilities contacted Hydro Corp with the request to get the city cross connection program into compliance with the requirements. For the industrial/commercial user, Hydro Corp will perform a minimum of 90 inspections per year and re-inspect if not in compliance. For the residential contract, Hydro Corp will perform a minimum of 165 individual residences per year.
Hydro Corp will handle all the contact with users to set up the inspection and if any corrective actions are required, they will submit reports to the City, conduct an annual meeting to review with city staff where the program is, prepare the annual State of Michigan EGLE cross connection annual report, assist with public relations in regard to the cross connection program and provide up to 3,000 ASSE approved hose bib vacuum breakers or anti-frost hose bib vacuum breakers as part of these contracts.
The Council approve the change order to have Michigan Specialty Coatings, Inc. upgrade the Water Treatment Plant floor coating to the urethane mortar with a urethane topcoat for a total amount of $12,280.56 after some water damage was found in the flooring. This change is covered within the annual asset repair and replacement budget.
The City of Allegan is required to update the Water Reliability Study (WRS) every 5 years as part of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. Prein & Newhof in Grand Rapids last updated the WRS in 2017, and the Council approved the contract with Prein & Newhof to update the city’s Water Reliability Study for the amount of $14,000.00. This expenditure was included in the 2023 budget.
Sewer Truck
Doug Sweeris, Water Utilities Director, reported on the results of the request for proposals he received for replacement of a sewer truck. Four sewer truck manufacturers responded and Sweeris attended their product demonstrations.
Three suppliers submitted proposals for the new unit. MacAllister/CAT submitted a quote for $481,882.50; Fredrickson submitted quotes for a couple of trucks, one of which was $493,000.00; M-Tech’s provided a build sheet for truck that would not be ready for 18-24 months. Jack Doheny Co.’s proposal was $444,000. Sweeris presented the council with a review of the cost, specifications and equipment demonstrations, and his recommendation to award the contract to Doheny was approved. This purchase was budgeted for in the current budget for $400,000.00 so a budget adjustment for $44,000 was made. The Council also declared the current sewer truck to be surplus once the new vehicle is received so it can be sold to help offset the difference between budgeted and actual amount.
Insurance
The Council approved an Insurance Counseling Service Agreement in the amount of $4,500 with Phil Siegler of Bartz Rumery Agency to serve as the City of Allegan Insurance Consultant and authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to sign the agreement. Siegler of Bartz Rumery has been the insurance consultant for the city for several years and evaluates, advises, and assists the City regarding various insurance programs and requirements, including securing quotes for various insurance coverages. The city reports having been well served by the relationship with Siegler, who does not receive any commission on city insurance business.
The Council approved the renewal of various insurance policies for the City of Allegan and authorized the payment of the related invoice totaling $159,636. The City of Allegan must carry several insurance policies for various entities, items, and activities. These include the airport, drone, general city, building authority and Positively Allegan. BHS Insurance has contracts with multiple carriers that write municipal business policies, and city staff believe they continue to provide the City of Allegan with a competitively priced product with appropriate coverages specific to municipal business.
Boat Ramp
The installation of a boat ramp at the Allegan Water Treatment Plant to be used by authorized users, including environmental firms and public safety agencies was the final item on the agenda. Recently the City of Allegan was approached by Wood Environmental and Infrastructure Solutions, Inc. to install a boat ramp at the Allegan Water Treatment Plant to allow them to have access to the Kalamazoo River between the Dam and Lake Allegan. Wood is part of the team conducting studies on the Kalamazoo River as part of the ongoing EPA Superfund Investigation. All costs associated with permitting and installation of the boat ramps will be the responsibility of Wood Environmental and Infrastructure Solutions Inc. The Council authorized the installation.
During closing comments, Dye and several council members noted how successful the first weekend’s events were. An estimated 2500-3000 people attended Bridgefest, and the Rolling on the River concert was filled to capacity. In fact, parking restrictions will be in place for future Rolling on the River concerts. The parking lot by the splash pad will be closed, and Brady Street parking will be restricted to Handicapped Parking only.
Downtown continues to draw visitors to attractions such as the free summer matinees at the Regent Theater and a busy first night at Fork in the Road, the recurring Monday night food truck event.

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