Two weeks ahead of schedule, the Sink Road bridge construction project ended with a dedication ceremony September 24. The $1.16 million project was the result of almost a decade of work between the Pokagon Band, the state of Michigan, Cass County, and Pokagon Township and exemplifies how good government-to-government relationships can result in projects that are beneficial for everyone.
The former Sink Road bridge was several decades old and not designed to current Michigan Department of Transportation requirements. The Pokagon Band has access to funding via Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Tribal Bridge Program, and thanks to a land swap was able to apply that funding for this project.
Improving the bridge meant encroaching on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ canoe launch parcel, southeast of the bridge. To eliminate a public launch site, MDNR must replace it with a like site close to an existing site.
The Band owns property a mile away at Peavine Road, so Tribal Council proposed a swap of a less than one acre parcel on Peavine Road for the four acre MDNR parcel at Sink Road.
MDNR agreed to this swap. The Band keeps the MDNR land which runs along both sides of Dowagiac River, adjoining Rodgers Lake campus. MDNR is building a new canoe launch on Peavine Road on the land deeded over to them by the Band in the swap.
The Pokagon Band received $751,402 from the Bureau of Indiana Affairs Tribal Bridge Program for the Sink Road project. Michigan Department of Transportation, Cass County, and Pokagon Township also contributed funds.
“The project was a win-win for all parties,” said Chairman Matt Wesaw. “The Band’s funding paid for 80 percent of the cost, public safety is improved, and the community will have a safer, more convenient canoe launch with dedicated parking and a rustic restroom.”