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Bay County officials say state takeover of Independence Bridge unlikely

Joanna Poe

Bay County officials say state takeover of the ailing Independence Bridge is unlikely.

Officials say a meeting with the Michigan Department of Transportation last week was not promising.

The bridge, which is owned by Bay City and connects M-15 to I-75, needs at least 9 million dollars in repairs just to stay functional. A complete renovation is estimated at 16 million.

Jim Barcia is the Bay County Executive. He said City and County officials proposed the MDOT takeover on the grounds that it is used largely by people outside the county.

“They were very reluctant, I could tell from their reaction, that they don’t want to assume the ownership and future maintenance costs on Independence Bridge.”

Barcia said the county has long tried to handoff the bridge to the state.

“We’ve worked on this issue since 1978 or 1779. All the way from Governor Milliken to Governor Blanchard, to Governor Engler, to Governor Granholm, to Governor Snyder the answer has been a solid ‘no.’”

Barcia said the county needs to pursue other options.

“Bay City and the Independence Bridge would be eligible for assistance from the Federal level.”

Barcia said MDOT will respond officially within thirty days of the meeting, but he’s not hopeful of a state takeover.

Other options include seeking federal grants, a countywide millage, or privatization.

Barcia said Bay City officials will have to come to a consensus on what to do.