Aging draw bridge causes concern for business owners - WNEM TV 5

Aging draw bridge causes concern for business owners

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An old bridge is in dire need of an update, but construction in the area has happened before and business owners said it hurt them.

The condition of the Lafayette Bridge in Bay City is concerning business owners like Jerry Crete.

He opened up the Ideal Party Store on Salzburg seven years ago. That journey has been less than ideal because of construction.

"I'm still making up from the losses I had three years ago. So it's tough," Crete said.

Salzburg went through a major reconstruction three years ago. It was closed for eight months.

A plan to replace the aging draw bridge there could prove fatal for his small business.

"If they were to cut off traffic like when they did the reconstruction for two years, I mean that could potentially put us out of business," Crete said.

The Michigan Department of Transportation laid out its bridge rebuilding options Wednesday night. One plan called for tearing down the existing bridge and building a new one. Another option was to keep the current bridge open while building a new one to the south and then demolishing the old bridge once the new one is open.

"Basically gives us an idea of what the cost is and what the impact is to the business and the community," said Jack Hofweber, with MDOT.

There is about a $20 million difference between the two options. That is in part because MDOT would need to buy up homes and businesses to build a new bridge in a different location. That could include tearing down Putz Hardware and Ideal Party Store on the backs of taxpayers.

"Go right through the blocks, purchasing property and that's my main concern is the partners are not going to have all that money," said John Davidson, Bay City commissioner.

MDOT will look at the public's comments before implementing a new bridge construction plan. Crete hopes that decision won't put him under water.

"For that bridge to completely go down and not be usable, that would be the worst of all scenarios," Crete said.

He also said he does not want to see businesses or homes bulldozed when work begins. The project is slated to take two years starting in 2020.

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