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Residents hope a new bridge will help return to 'normal' after 500-year flood

residents walk along bridge
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
“It’s like this pandemic. ‘Is anything ever going to be normal again?’ Let’s just get it close," says John Blades, Tobacco Township trustee, about how the bridge should help local residents get back to normal.";s:3:"uri

Nearly ten months after the old M-30 bridge was washed away by a massive flood, people in Edenville and Wixom Lake walked across a new temporary bridge Thursday.

Back in May, after days of heavy rain, the Edenville dam failed. Torrents of water poured through the breach, draining Wixom Lake. Downstream, a500-year flood event inundated homes and businesses and forcing thousands to evacuate.

The force of the flood heavily damaged the M-30 bridge. M-30 is a heavily travelled road in Midland and Gladwin counties. The flood severed the link between communities north and south of the Edenville dam.

The temporary bridge erected by the Michigan Department of Transportation is more than three times longer than the bridge it replaced.

Robert Ranck Jr. is MDOT’s Bay Region engineer. He says this is the last of 26 MDOT projects replacing and repairing damaged bridges and washed out roads from the May flood.  

“This is the final step in our long journey,” Ranck.

But it's not quite the final step. Ranck says MDOT plans to design a permanent M-30 bridge during the next few years.   Construction will take a few more years.  

To celebrate the restoration of the M-30 link, residents of Edenville and Wixom Lake carried wind-whipped flags as they walked across the bridge Thursday morning.

John Blades is a Tobacco Township trustee. He says restoring this bridge is important to their residents who lost so much after the Edenville dam failed last Spring. He says many have been forced to travel miles out of their way to run errands that in the past would take minutes. 

Blades says the temporary bridge is about getting back to normal.

“It’s just psychological to see things moving forward,” says Blades. “Obviously the next step will be getting our water back.”

There is currently no timetable for replacing the Edenville dam and restoring Wixom Lake.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.