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Legislation paves the way for Bay City bridge deal

New laws may help other communities with bridge infrastructure woes
(WJRT)
Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 6:08 PM EST
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WJRT) - A big development today in the Bay City bridges saga.

The state clears the way for a unique partnership between the city and a private company on operation of two bridges.

“It is a big deal, we have been working on this for over a year,” says Bay City city manager Dana Muscott.

It was a year ago when Bay City reached an agreement with United Bridge Partners, which would allow the private company to maintain the Liberty and Independence Bridges and the company would collect tolls to help pay for maintenance and construction.

But legislation was needed to allow the private-public deal, and Muscott says the series of bills made it through a legislative committee this month.

“It passed the next day, it was fast, and now that the Governor signed it, we can go straight ahead now,” says Muscott.

In Bay City’s case, the bills help solve the city’s bridge dilemma, as the bridges are in bad shape and there have been safety concerns.

“Complete new bridge for Independence and Liberty will be a rehab,” she says.

Light construction on the bridges will start in 2021, but Muscott says a bulk of the work will be done the next year.

“People were sitting back and watching us doing this, because other municipalities have bridges too in their communities so this is going to pave the way for them to look at some different funding mechanisms for their cities,” she says.

United Bridge Partners will pay Bay City a fee of $5 million. It will keep the future toll money and now Bay City will be able to use money it has spent on bridge repairs over the past several years on other infrastructure improvements.

“We should be using those funds that we use for bridges, we should be putting those back into roads and sidewalks, so we have a lot of catching up,” says Muscott.

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