Residents demand second opinion on Smith’s Bridge

Ottawa County

FERRYSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — Neighbors in Ferrysburg are demanding a second opinion on a bridge they say does not need to be closed

This comes after officials found structural concerns during a routine inspection at Smith’s Bridge. 

“The rebar that’s holding the box springs together is broken, so the beams are working independently instead of together in tandem,” said City Manager Craig Bessinger as he described the problem. 

Bessinger says the bridge is inspected every two years. Before its last inspection, reports showed the bridge was in good shape.

Engineers say they are concerned of water deteriorating parts of the bridge and the problem would only worsen as cars drive over it.

Drivers frequently use the bridge as a thoroughfare between Spring Lake, Grand Haven and Ferrysburg. 

The city decided to close the bridge to avoid any incidents. Residents in the area say that was a rash decision.

“We now have a three-mile detour and when you go over the bridge three times a day, it starts to add up,” said Ann Smith, who’s working with the grassroots group Save Smith’s Bridge.

The city plans to rebuild the bridge entirely and add a pedestrian path.

Officials say after finding funding for the project and designing, they could potentially begin work on the bridge in 2022. The city says the bridge would remain closed until then.

The Save Smith’s Bridge organization says one of its biggest issues with the city’s current plan is the amount of time it will take to complete the work and how the closure will affect emergency response times.

The organization is also concerned about the project’s $13 million price tag. Their goal is to get the city to explore alternate options to repair the bridge. 

“This is more of a regional issue. Even though it’s a city-owned bridge, we’re running into issues that impact the outside community as well,” Smith said.

The group raised $1,200 for a second opinion on the bridge. A new set of engineers have already started the process.

The city says if the new report conflicts the current one, they don’t have a plan in place but will discuss the next steps. 

The city will be hosting a public forum on Sept. 10, where they’ll get to hear the second opinion from engineers. They’ll also hear from community members.

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