Company pitches toll to fix Ferrysburg bridge

Ottawa County

FERRYSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — There may be a fix for a failing bridge in Ferrysburg: A company has suggested turning it into a toll bridge.

The city council will consider adding tolls to Smith’s Bridge, which is in such rough shape that it had to be shut down earlier this year.

“The concern is that the top of the box beam is deteriorating to the point where a tire could go through and fall into that cavity,” Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger explained the safety concerns surrounding the bridge.

According to the city, it will cost $13 million to fix the 447-foot bridge that was built in 1972, and officials say they are running out of options to cover that cost.

Bessinger said that the city was notified in 2016 the bridge needed repairs. Since then, the city has been applying for state and federal grants. The governor toured the bridge this summer promising to pay to fix it, but the money never came.

Currently, the 6,000 vehicles that used to cross the bridge daily have to take a detour that adds three minutes to their trip. For emergency vehicles, that could mean the difference between life or death.

Now, a company called American Roads, which operates the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, has contacted the city with a proposal: It will fix the bridge.

“To recoup their cost, they would charge a modest toll,” Bessinger said.

The exact amount has not been determined. The city is also waiting on details on how the toll would be collected.

“The city does not have the money, the $13 million, to replace that bridge,” Bessinger said. “If there is not a toll on there, then another option is to levy a millage to pay for the bonds to replace that bridge.”

City voters rejected such a millage in 2017.

An informational meeting about the proposed toll will be held at City Hall at 7 p.m. Dec. 16.

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