Evacuation order issued with fears Brown Bridge Dam could collapse

Traverse City Light and Power reported the temporary dam was in danger of failing around 11:35 Saturday morning.

Update Sunday 12:00pm: Authorities say the breach at the Brown Bridge Dam is secure, water levels have gone back to normal, and the situation is considered under control.

This is the latest update provided by the Project Manger at 3:15pm on Sunday: The construction area at the dam site is stabilized and the flow of water below the dam has returned to a normal level. Work crews monitored the construction area and road crossings overnight to keep the area secure.

It is believed that the river crested at Beitner Road Bridge at approximately 11:30 p.m. last night, at 4.5 â?? 5 feet above normal levels. The public is urged to use caution when approaching or entering the river due to debris that continues to float downstream.

Vehicle and foot traffic congestion in the area continues to be a concern. The public is urged to use designated parking and viewing areas at the overlooks located on Ranch Rudolph Road, and at the canoe launch on Brown Bridge Road.

The project team at this time is focused on the following: Bridge inspection and reopening of roads, Downstream reconnaissance, Continued sediment monitoring, Assistance for those affected by the incident.

Qualified bridge inspectors from MDOT as well as private consulting engineers are completing affected county road crossings. Crossings on River Road and Garfield Road have been completed and those roads have been reopened. Following satisfactory inspection results, all county roads in the area will be reopened. Private road crossings will also be inspected.

- A flood damage hot line is in place for assistance with water damage mitigation and clean up. Anyone requesting this type of assistance should call 231-995-6059. If a dangerous situation is present, such as a downed power line or other emergency situation, the public should call 911.

- The project team continues to be proactive in assessing damage, ensuring safety and contacting affected residents, including going door-to-door.

- Organic material continues to move downstream, and crews are working to filter material at various locations. Sand traps and other sediment mitigation procedures that were already in place have been successful in greatly reducing the amount of sediment released downstream.

- The project team will spend the next 36-48 hours developing a process to investigate the cause of the incident and developing a plan for completing the removal of Brown Bridge Dam.

- Project team members are assessing impacts on aquatic wildlife.

- The Boardman River Dams Project Implementation Team expresses its profound appreciation to the over 100 people that responded to the emergency, including work crews, engineers, County emergency personnel, County and State law enforcement, Grand Traverse County Road Commission and local media.


The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office issued this final update on the dam failure at 5:45pm:

The situation is stabilized however, the GT Road Commission and emergency officials are still taking precautions to ensure that the area and roadways, specifically the bridges crossing the Boardman River. River Road will be closed to through traffic until further notice.

Residents living on River Road may return home via River Road but through traffic should find an alternate route. Garfield Road south of River Road is closed in Paradise Township until further notice. Traffic will lot be allowed through Garfield Road at that point and motorists should find an alternate route. Deputies will be patrolling the area overnight. We wish to remind you that if you return home and need to cross a private bridge we strongly encourage you to inspect that bridge prior to crossing the bridge. If you return home and find a hazard such as down power lines or ruptured gas lines contact Central Dispatch at 231-922-4550.

If your home had any flooding, the Grand Traverse County Health Department has issued a health advisory to properly sanitize your home before returning. CLICK HERE. and CLICK HERE.


At 4:15pm officials lifted the evacuation order. People who live along the Boardman River can return home.

Three homes are damaged by flooding along the Boardman River while crews continue to fix a hole in a temporary portion of the Brown Bridge Dam.

The partial breech was discovered Saturday morning and Traverse City Light and Power reported the temporary dam was in danger of failing around 11:35am.

The problem started at the dam removal construction site and was caused by erosion. The fears of the collapse prompted evacuations along the Boardman River. Command officers at the scene ordered everyone who lives along the Boardman River from Brown Bridge Dam to Keystone Road to evacuate. A Shelter was set up at the Traverse City Salvation Army on South Airport Road.

Several roads are closed in the area while crews continue to work on the north side of the dam. Officials report the situation is improving and as of 2:50pm the water dropped eight inches.

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff is asking people to avoid the area. The roads impacted by closures include: Garfield Avenue near Mayfield. Portions of River Road are also shut down.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for Grand Traverse County until 6:15pm Saturday because of a dam failure on the Boardman River below

Brown Bridge Dam


Stay tuned to 7&4 News and UpNorthLive for more updates on the situation.