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'Everybody has a close call story' | Walker leaders want to widen problematic bridge

The City of Walker on Monday revealed what the railroad bridge at Bristol Avenue and Pannell Street could look like someday and answered questions for neighbors.

WALKER, Mich. — The first time you cross under the railroad bridge at the corner of Bristol Avenue and Pannell Street, you might be caught off guard. And you certainly wouldn't be the first, or the last, to be confused about what to do.

"Everybody has a close call story at this intersection. I even have a few myself," said City of Walker engineer Scott Conners.

As it stands, there's only a single lane under the bridge. Traffic heading north on Bristol does not stop. Traffic heading south on Bristol stops before reaching the bridge and must yield to oncoming traffic. But the line of sight doesn't make it easy for southbound traffic to see cars turning north from Pannell onto Bristol.

The bridge is also only 10 feet tall and has been hit by several trucks over the years.

"I think most people are glad to see that we're doing something. It's been a long time, the bridge is 115 years old now," Conners said.

"Its unique geometry has caused a lot of problems, and it's been hard to solve this problem without having some significant grant money."

On Monday, the city gave a look at a conceptual bridge redesign which would include both a north and a southbound lane with a pedestrian sidewalk.

Credit: City of Walker

"I think what we've seen from social media is that most of the people are very interested in this and want to see it happen," Conners said.

Once the city has a gauge on how the community feels about the project, the city commission will take up the issue. But it could be a few years before the new design becomes a reality.

"The dollars are for construction in 2023, which means we have to bid on it in 2023. But with a lot of the delays that we're seeing with materials, we're going to see projects that are six months or nine months behind that," Conners said.

"This would be a concrete span structure, which has to be built at a factory someplace else and then brought to the site, so there will be some delays. Construction is either going to be, if we're lucky summer of 2023, but most likely probably summer of 2024."

Walker is also looking at a sidewalk grant that would run from the bridge to 3 Mile Road along Bristol Avenue. That would connect the surrounding residential area, Alpine Estates Park, West Catholic High School and Walker Charter Academy.

If you have any feedback, you can email Conners at sconners@walker.city.

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