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Silverbell Bridge gets additional weight restrictions

But RCOC says replacement is on the horizon

The Silverbell Road Bridge still sees heavy traffic at times, but weight restrictions keep most big trucks off the deteriorating structure. Photo by Laura Colvin Laura Colvin. (click for larger version)
December 15, 2010 - By Gabriel Ouzounian

Review staff writer

Truck drivers and others frustrated by closed lanes on the Silverbell Road Bridge can expect continued irritation, albeit with a silver lining.

The bridge's weight limit has again been lowered for safety reasons, but it appears the structure, which runs over the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, about a half-mile west of M-24, may finally be replaced in the months ahead.

The bridge has suffered from years of heavy truck passage, and has been in a consistent state of deterioration due to that traffic.

Before last February, when the Road Commission for Oakland County received a $4.3 million grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation, speculative reports put the bridge's reconstruction at sometime in 2013 due to funding restraints.

Now with the proper funds, the bridge's reconstruction is scheduled for early 2011.

Craig Bryson, Public Information Officer for the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) said the goal is to have the bridge rebuilt in time for the GM Orion Assembly Plant reopening.

"I believe [the GM plant] is going to reopen in 2011 and the bridge will take about four to five months to complete," said Bryson. "The GM people have been very involved in the reconstruction of this bridge. They do not want their trucks to go miles out of the way to get to the factory."

Bryson said the original weight limit for the bridge was between 33 and 45 tons, depending on vehicle type.

But on Tuesday, Dec. 7, weight limits were reduced to between 14 and 17 tons.

The RCOC has attributed the deterioration mainly to bridge's 30-year lifespan, and the frequent traffic of commercial freight trucks.

Currently, the two southernmost lanes of the bridge remain closed to traffic.

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