A bridge on Mont­gomery Road between Camden and Frontier will remain closed for repairs until October 2022, according to Hillsdale County Com­mis­sioner Doug Ingles. The bridge crosses the St. Joseph River near Wood­bridge Road. 

The bridge repair, which began on March 21, is underway thanks to a grant of just less than $1 million from the Federal Critical Bridge Fund, according to Ingles.

Ingles said he esti­mates the bridge will be open for travel again by mid-October and com­pleted by November 2022. 

Without the repairs, local emer­gency ser­vices could struggle to reach Camden-Frontier Schools, according to County Com­mis­sioner Brad Benzing. 

“The load limit on the bridge had been below the weight of what firetrucks would need to cross it to get to the school and they would have to detour around it if it failed,” Benzing said.

Usually, the bridge is open all season, and allows for trans­portation east and west across the county, according to Benzing.

“I am glad to see that we are working with the department of trans­portation of the state of Michigan,” said County Com­mis­sioner Brent Leninger.

Benzing said that repairs have long been expected, as they were first funded six years ago. He also detailed how repairs stalled after sur­veyors found an endan­gered species of mussel under­neath the bridge, according to Benzing.

According to Benzing, more studies were nec­essary to protect the mussels. Before beginning con­struction on the bridge, county engi­neers drafted an envi­ron­mental mit­i­gation plan. 

Aside from envi­ron­mental con­cerns, the project depends on weather con­di­tions and the approval of engi­neering plans, Ingles said. 

“It some­times takes several years to get a project engi­neered and approved and then once those happen, they have to get it out. Federal and state projects have to follow guide­lines,” Ingles said.