Expensive fix: OHM recommends Bay City tear down Liberty Bridge, replace Independence Bridge

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BAY CITY, Michigan (WJRT) - (12/ 11/2018) - Bay City Mayor Kathi Newsham has sticker shock after hearing how much it will cost to keep Bay City to remove the Liberty Bridge and replace the Independence Bridge.

"I'm very impressed with what they did but the numbers are astronomical," Newsham said just minutes after OHM Advisors wrapped up their presentation at City Hall on Tuesday night.

Their recommendation comes on the heels of a six-month bridge, traffic and operations study paid for by Bay City.

When you're talking about bridges, nothing comes cheap.

Maintenance alone on both the Liberty and Independence bridges costs upwards of $4 million dollars in 2018 according to data presented by OHM Advisors.

Moving forward, minimum repair work runs in the neighborhood of $29 million, while recommended repair work could cost around $57 million.

Short-term recommendations by OHM Advisors include seeking funding opportunities and continuing maintenance of the Liberty and Independence Bridges.

OHM Project Manager Matt Wendling described long term recommendations:

"Remove and replace Independence Bridge," he said, "ultimately when that's done, remove Liberty Bridge."

Wendling said the replacement structure would be a new drawbridge.

Projected costs run just over 107 million dollars right now.

If the city waits six years, the price tag could jump up to just over $142 million dollars.

Mayor Kathi Newsham says the city is going to try and identify funding sources, including reaching out to the new governor in the first of the year.

"I always thought ten million was a lot" she noted after the presentation,"if we had to remove a bridge, and then we see the numbers in black-and-white and it's unbelievable."

The day before the hearing, United Bridge Partners out of Denver sent a revised proposal to Bay City offering to buy both bridges for one million dollars.

They would then reimburse the city for short term repairs completed over the last calendar year, rehabilitate the Liberty Bridge, and replace the Independence Bridge with a new drawbridge.

The plan involves tolls five years after the new bridge opens to traffic. The President of the City Commissioners, however, says she's not big on the idea of tolls:

"The idea of privatizing city infrastructure doesn't ever sit right with me," said Basmadjian, but in the end I have to look at the safety of my citizens and of the city and what we can do best for everybody."

Basmadjian says she want to explore the idea of a millage proposal to pay for a new bridge.

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