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What's causing Fenner Road repairs in Muskegon County?

Fenner Road has been closed since May of 2020 after several days of heavy rainfall. A project to repair the road is on hold.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — A road in Muskegon County has been closed for more than a year because of damage caused in 2020. 

After several days of heavy rainfall in May 2020, two culverts on Fenner Road in Muskegon County failed, causing the road to collapse.

It’s resulted in a bit of a headache for people trying to get access to nearby campgrounds and beaches.

“We used to travel down Fenner Road to get to Lake Michigan and go to the beach or the state park or the sports complex out there. And now we just have to take a detour,” Deborah Pittenger, a homeowner in Laketon Township, said.

During the early part of the 20th century there was a bridge on Fenner Road. The old concrete blocks were unearthed after the road was damaged.

The plan is to build a new bridge to fix the problem.

“What we went with was a good cost option, which is cheaper than some of the other options, is a timber bridge, which is built out of wood,” Andrew Nichols, with the Muskegon County Road Commission, said.

Nichols said because Fenner is a local road linked to a township, the county and township needed to work together to come up with the funds to pay for repairs.

Laketon township is responsible for 50% of the costs, an expense that needed board approval, which it eventually got.

Plus, working around Green Creek required involvement by the federal government.

“We don't like to have a road close; I can promise you that. But I also have to follow rules as well. And not only the permitting, but there's money involved and local shares with townships and coordinating all these different agencies to assist. So, there's a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Nichols said.

Now the delay has become another victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The problem we're having is the actual bridge kit itself. There's a slowdown in materials we ordered back in June, and we were slated for September, and now it's being pushed to October,” Nichols said.

While the road closure created a headache for some drivers this summer who also had to deal with a road closure caused by construction on Memorial Drive, those living nearby are optimistic that things will be back to normal soon.

“We kept thinking it would get done much sooner, you know, we would ask and I’m sure that's why Laketon has been so good about (it), they sent a letter out to us about a month ago explaining the situation,” Susan Nielsen, a Laketon Township homeowner, said.

The road commission is optimistic that the bridge kit will arrive sometime this fall.

If it does, the work should take about 30 days to complete.

RELATED: Muskegon County declares local state of emergency due to flooding

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