6 years later, White’s Bridge reconstruction starts

Ionia County

KEENE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Those who have waited anxiously to see White’s Bridge rebuilt in eastern Ionia County are thrilled to see progress over the Flat River.

The historic covered bridge, which had stood over the river since 1869, was destroyed by arson in July 2013. No arrests were ever made.

“There’s a lot of people that said they carved their initials in it. Wedding proposals, birthdays and graduation pictures, all those kinds of things,” Tom Byle told News 8 Monday.

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The remains of the old White’s Bridge in Keene Township, which burned down in 2013. (July 7, 2019)

Byle is the assistant director of engineering for the Kent County Road Commission as well as president of the Whites Bridge Historical Society. Byle is overseeing the replica project for the bridge in Keene Township, between Belding and Lowell.

“It’s been a long six years since the bridge burned. We finally have a contractor on site and he’s, as I refer to it, cutting the pieces to the Lincoln Logs and now is assembling the pieces,” he said.

The project brought together more than $900,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Meijer Foundation, Michigan Economic Development Corporation and various smaller donations.

There are only a few covered bridges left in Michigan. Byle also worked on the replica bridge project in Ada.

“It’s ironic 39 years ago with the Ada covered bridge, we were doing it in the mud and the snow then to finish it, too, then. So it’s kind of deja vu,” Byle added.

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A file photo of the old White’s Bridge in Keene Township.

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