Letter to the Editor: Road commission should have taken action earlier on Longbridge Road.

September 30, 2019

Letter to the Editor: Road commission should have taken action earlier on Longbridge Road.

Dear Editor:

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Here’s one concerning the Longbridge closure. As reported in Oceana County Press, Road Commission Managing Director Mark Timmer read a prepared statement to those attending the Sept. 25 meeting, and said this: “We have been working SINCE WE CLOSED THE ROAD (emphasis added) towards a long-term repair.”

And that’s what’s so troubling, because this is a primary county road, crossing through a FEMA flood plain, and nothing was done earlier.

What should have triggered earlier action? Well, here’s “Exhibit 1.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issues a “Monthly Bulletin of Lake Levels for the Great Lakes.” Its March bulletin shows past and current (solid red line) levels for Lake Michigan, and the projected level for the next six months (a dashed green line, which is placed within a larger, red shaded area showing a range of possible high and low projected levels over the next six months.)

The USACE’s March 2019 projection clearly should have triggered action by the road commission, because Lake Michigan was projected to be markedly higher over the next six months. The May level was projected to be higher than any recorded level in 2017 or 2018. (So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Longbridge flooded on May 1). USACE’s projected levels in June, July and August were even higher.

The road commission knew this in March – or it should have known. Why didn’t the road commission order soil borings sooner? Instead, the OCRC reported June 20 (three months later) on its Facebook page: “We have ordered soil borings to make sure that there isn’t rock or other material that would prevent an auger cast construction.”

Then, it took two more months before the contracted firm actually did the testing, finishing in mid-August. Contractors tell us soil borings can be scheduled in a couple of weeks. Had the borings been taken last spring, the design, hydrology study (also referenced in the OCRC’s June 20 Facebook posting), and DEQ permitting could have begun much earlier. Reconstruction could have begun by now or soon.

And Longbridge could have been re-opened by winter.

Ron Beeber
6231 Ridge Road

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