Proposals for future bridge plans in Bay City all involve tolls

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BAY CITY (WJRT) (07/11/2019) - The Bay City Commission has a lot to mull over after an hours-long presentation by three companies vying to repair, replace, or demolish the Liberty and Independence drawbridges.

All three plans involve tolls.

Residents and commissioners first heard from Michigan-based American Roads on Thursday evening. They're offering the city $210 million to take over operation of both bridges for 50 years.

American Roads said it would spend $50 million on the immediate rehabilitation of the Independence Bridge.

An additional $10 million would be spent for the demolition of the Liberty Bridge. The bridge would be replaced with a riverfront park for the community to use.

The company says $150 million would be used for ongoing operations and maintenance.

Bay City residents would be charged a 75-cent toll, while nonresidents would pay $1.50 to use the bridge.

Chicago-based Kiewit says it wants to take a progressive partner approach that would allow Bay City to retain control of both bridges.

The company says it wants to conduct a full bridge study and come up with a funding strategy. Bridge Engineer Rick Wianecke describes the bridges as being in good to fair condition.

He thinks they still have plenty of life left in them, pointing out that the Liberty Bridge, built in 1986, is only 33 years old. Wianecke said it needs a little maintenance.

He also thinks the Independence Bridge has 60 more years of useful life and replacing it would not be prudent.

The company did not, however, provide any hard numbers in regards to repair plans or tolls.

Finally, United Bridge Partners out of Denver is offering to buy both bridges from the city for $5 million.

They want to rehabilitate the Liberty Bridge and replace the Independence Bridge, spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million.

Residents would pay a 50-cent toll to use the bridge, while nonresidents would pay $2.00. The fee would be waived for those living below the poverty line.

The fees would not go into effect until after the first five years of operation.

Bay City Manager Dana Muscott said the commissioners have a lot to go over following the lengthy presentation by the three companies vying for the bid.

While she said losing control is a concern, right now the city does not have the money to do what these companies can do.

There was no vote on Thursday evening. The City Commission will meet again on Monday, at which point they may decide which company to approve or seek more proposals.

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