MDOT spent $2.1M on unused Z-Bridge parts - WNEM TV 5

MDOT spent $2.1M on unused Z-Bridge parts

The Michigan Department of Transportation said it spent $2.1 million on 34 giant bearings for the Zilwaukee Bridge that it won't use.

Matthew J. Chynoweth, manager of the Bay City Transportation Service Center, said that the state plans to hire a contractor to fabricate 134 new bearings next year for the bridge at a cost of $6.8 million.

Crews will install the new bearings in 2013 at a preliminary cost of about $22.5 million.

The work is part of $35 million in Zilwaukee Bridge construction, which also includes patching and repairing the deck and median barrier in the Interstate 75 bridge over the Saginaw river.

The original expansion bearings, 2 to 3 feet in diameter, were part of a 2007-08 maintenance project that went awry when a subcontractor inadvertently cut through reinforced steel in the 8,000-foot-long bridge. Z-Bridge traffic was diverted for about 8 months at that time.

A private MDOT investigation revealed the cutting incident was no one's fault, and MDOT had to fix the problem on the taxpayer's dime. It also showed outdated blueprints were blamed for crews drilling into supports.

About 60,000 drivers use the Z-Bridge on average weekday, 100,000 on the weekend.

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