April 30, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 101

Rising water levels force bridge on M-28 to close

EWEN — The Michigan Department of Transportation closed the bridge on M-28 over the South Branch of the Ontonagon River just east of Ewen Monday at 2 p.m.

Larry Holcombe/Daily Globe
The M-28 is closed at the bridge over the South Branch of the Ontonagon River Monday afternoon. Michigan Department of Transportation officials closed the bridge as water was 7.5 above flood stage and rising at 12:20 p.m. Monday.

At 3:30, the water was still rising according to Ontonagon County Road Commission officials, but the water was not over the road.

Truck traffic was being detoured on M-64, M-38 and U.S. 45. Lighter traffic was rerouted to a bridge just south of M-28, adding a 3.5 mile detour, according to Jerry Mattson of the OCRC. Mattson, one of many OCRC workers working at high-water locations around the county, was directing traffic at the M-28 bridge Monday afternoon.

An MDOT official said the river was 7.5 feet above flood levels at 12:20 p.m. Monday and was expected to rise. MDOT was unsure how long the closure would last.

The Ewen-Trout Creek School District let out school early at 1:30 to get kids home before the closure.

At 3:30, the water was higher than bottom of the bridge, about 2.5 feet up the 5-foot beam that runs the 325-foot length of the three-span concrete bridge.

“That’s a lot of pressure flow against the bridge,” said MDOT’s bridge engineer for the region, Pete Wessel, who was on site Monday afternoon.

Also on site was a crew from the U.S. Geological Survey measuring water flow.

While the water rises at the M-28 bridge each spring, the water hasn’t been over the road since 2002.

Elsewhere in Ontonagon County, Norwich Road is closed between Chamberlain and Goldberg roads due to a washout. Larson and Airport roads have water over some portions, and there are many other back roads and driveways underwater.