PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEARING #1
PROPOSED NEW THORNAPPLE RIVER BRIDGE AND IMPROVEMENTS TO CRANE ROAD AND FINKBEINER ROAD IN THORNAPPLE TOWNSHIP,
BARRY COUNTY, MICHIGAN
Commissioner Don Willcutt invited the audience to participate in the pledge of allegiance. The public hearing was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Commissioner Don Willcutt in the Thornapple-Kellogg High School Auditorium. Commissioner Roger Pashby is excused from this public hearing as he is out of the state. Willcutt introduces Commissioner Dave Dykstra and explains the public hearing guidelines, stating the intent of this meeting is to hear concerns of the public and not necessarily to answer any questions regarding that proposed project.
Willcutt asked to hear from those who OPPOSE the proposed project.
Frederick Rock, 10118 Finkbeiner Road, Middleville (795-0070) states that the project will negatively affect the environment as well as result in increased development (i.e. malls, sewers), more traffic and congestion in the Village of Middleville. He is concerned that increased truck traffic will affect the safety of school children, and increased development will create a need for more taxes (i.e. to support emergency services). The only benefit will be to developers and local government. He asked what mechanisms exist to stop the project.
Fred Rock, 9725 Finkbeiner Road, Middleville (795-9503) states it will be a detriment to the community to create a truck route from/to I-131, in essence a “route to nowhere”. He sees no advantage to Middleville residents and fears any cost overruns may have to be paid by local taxpayers. He sees no advantage for local industry since Bradford-White has been able to successfully supply and ship their products for many years. If the existing bridge in Middleville is closed for some time people can just use the Parmalee bridge temporarily. If the existing bridge is reconstructed, he requests that one lane remain open during reconstruction of the bridge so people will not have to go around.
Allyn Vandyk, 317 Edgewood, Middleville, points out that an undue burden will be placed on those who live along the proposed route (Crane Road) and is concerned about property values being compromised and potential loss of property. He feels that all the people should bear a fair percentage of the load/cost.
Willcutt asked to hear from those who are NEUTRAL (neither opposed
nor in favor) of the proposed project.
Mark Zoet, 12919 Finkbeiner Road, Middleville, does not see how the project will alleviate traffic congestion on Main Street or near the schools. He believes it will make traffic flow worse at the intersection.
(Willcutt notes this is a preliminary hearing and thanks Mr. Zoet for his input.)
Jerry McWhinney, 12051 Finkbeiner Road, Middleville (795-9490) expressed concerns about the safety of homes that are close to the road.
(Willcutt advised the design phase of this proposed project has not determined where the road should be placed and assures the public that safety is a major concern with any Road Commission project.)
Willcutt asked to hear from those in FAVOR of the proposed project.
Cathy Williamson, 419 Thornton Street, Middleville (795-9090) states she lives on the west side of Middleville and has seen what storms can do to infrastructure. She realizes there is a need for an additional access route to the west side of the village for fire and ambulances vehicles.
Eric Lannes, 200 Lafayette Street, was present to represent Bradford-White and notes that from a business perspective the proposed project is necessary. The company employs 1100 people and utilizes a significant number of trucks in its production and delivery of water heaters. He emphasized that safety is of utmost importance to the company when directing its truck traffic, and weight limitations on the current bridge prevent the trucks from using the bridge during the winter. He noted that Bradford-White may expand and feels the proposed project is good for local employers and for West Michigan.
David (last name unknown), 312 Plum, Wayland (792-2707) was present to represent the snowmobile community. He advised that many clubs favor the proposed project as there are many trails in the area. They would like to see a wider (10 foot) bridge to allow snowmobiles to access the trails. He states there are over 400,000 registered “sleds” in the state who contribute a considerable amount of money to the area.
Brandon Meiras of Williams & Works Engineers advised the existing bridge was built in 1929 and the elements have taken a toll on the infrastructure. There is cracked and spawling concrete on the underside of the bridge and this deterioration will continue. He feels it is not cost effective to rehabilitate such an old bridge or to provide for one way traffic as grade changes would be necessary. Construction of a new bridge would allow for complete shut down of the existing bridge and is important for business and commerce.
William Nelson, Managing Director of the Allegan County Road Commission, 1308 Lincoln, Allegan, was present to lend support as the proposed project would create a continuous route to M-40 and I-196 and the long-range plan is to create a Class A road to connect Barry and Allegan counties to I-131.
Willcutt called twice for any further comments by anyone wishing to comment on the proposed project.
Willcutt advised the next preliminary public hearing will be held on Saturday, June 10th at 10:00 a.m.
Meeting declared adjourned at 7:31 p.m.