GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids is being closed overnight on the weekends after a recent increase in crime.
The pedestrian bridge is blocked off from midnight until 6 a.m. following a Sept. 11 shooting in which four people were injured. The first closures were last weekend.
Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom said illegal parties on the bridge have raised public safety concerns.
“The Blue Bridge is beautiful and it’s a great place to spend time but at 3 a.m. in the morning, people were congregating there. We even had a DJ set up there,” Winstrom said. “For the foreseeable future, we’re going to make sure that it’s closed from midnight to 6 a.m. at least Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, which is when we’ve been seeing these problems with these large gatherings.”
The bridge is owned by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the economic development organization has agreed to closures.
Detectives continue to review evidence of the shooting but no arrests have been made.
“Some of the individuals who were shot were not cooperative so that kind of tells you about the climate of what was going on there that night,” Winstrom said. “I do think because of all the evidence that we do have, we’ll be able to come to a conclusion where we will at least be able to put together what happened.”
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce says addressing safety concerns is a top priority for businesses.
“Obviously there’s violence that’s been increased across the city for several years now and it’s a huge concern. We want a safe environment for everyone whether you’re downtown in the business district or out in the neighborhoods,” the chamber’s Vice President of Government Affairs Josh Lunger said.
Lunger said the business community is working on ways to keep customers safe, like adding private security, but smaller-scale crimes are the most common problems the organization hears about from its members.
“Car thefts are going on across the region. We’re seeing harassment, significant more harassment, trespassing, things like that have been elevated for quite some time,” Lunger said.
The police department said other methods are being looked into to make the bridge safer.
“We’re talking about putting physical barriers on the bridge because we’ve had incidents where motorcycles or cars have actually driven onto the bridge during these incidents. We’re going to see about enhanced surveillance,” Lunger said.