FERRYSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — The fix for Ferrysburg’s Smith’s Bridge is on hold after the previously approved funding was pulled.
The troubled bridge was slated for a $10 million upgrade — one of 100 projects the Michigan Department of Transportation had outlined to tackle the bridges in the greatest need of repair. MDOT’s Bridge Bundling Pilot Project was slated to be covered with money from the American Rescue Plan Act, but Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger confirmed that those funds are gone for now.
“When the federal government passed the (Fiscal Responsibility Act) earlier this year, part of the clause said that any unused COVID money had to be returned,” Bessinger told News 8. “The Bridge Bundling Program was funded with COVID dollars, so all of the bridges in the bundling program now are unfunded at this time.”
MDOT is working on finding a new source to fund the Bridge Bundling Program, and the Grand Haven Tribune reported that State Rep. Greg VanWoerkem (R-Norton Shores) is also searching for other federal grant opportunities.
Local officials have been monitoring Smith’s Bridge for several years now. A 2016 inspection found that the bridge’s primary beams are not working properly and are causing the pavement to crack.
The bridge was closed for about six months in 2019 for more repairs. It has since reopened, but truck traffic is no longer allowed. Many locals fear losing the bridge, concerned about the added time it would take for emergency personnel to cross Smtih’s Bayou without it.
Smith’s Bridge, which was built in 1972, is currently being inspected twice a year — once in April and once in October. Bessinger said Smith’s Bridge is still in the design phase, and they hope to have funding back in place by the time construction is ready to start.
“We are hoping for the fall (of 2024) or spring of 2025,” Bessinger said.