Future of Bay City bridges discussed behind closed doors - WNEM TV 5

Future of Bay City bridges discussed behind closed doors

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BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -

The future of two Mid-Michigan bridges is in doubt as they have become the focus of a closed-door meeting.

Commissioners from Bay City and Bay County are trying to figure out how to pay for much needed repairs to the Independence and Liberty bridges.

Options include privatizing or even imposing a toll.

“Folks that interested in what was said in this meeting we did have notes taken and there’ll be a transcript of the meeting available to the public,” said Andrew Niedzinski, the President of the Bay City Commission.

Two bridges are in desperate need of repairs and there are several ideas on how to pay for it.

But when city leaders met on Jan. 22 to discuss the issue, no one from the public was allowed inside.

So why is the handling of such a big issue being discussed in private?

“So we wanted to keep the meeting to at least an hour,” Niedzinski said. “We know that if we would’ve had a lot of folks involved today it would’ve been a really long drawn out discussion. So we wanted to keep it short and simple. Present the facts from the city side and the county side.”

Niedzinski said because only a few members of city and county leaders were present it is not a quorum.

Therefore there is no legal obligation to make the gathering open to the public.

As for the meeting itself, Niedzinski said it went well and the healthy exchange of ideas is good, but action needs to happen soon.

“Probably before March to figure out what we’re going to do because the both bridges need a significant amount of work,” Niedzinski said.

Some options on the table include a countywide millage, selling the two bridges to a private firm that would turn the structures into toll bridges or implore federal and state government for more funding.

Niedzinski said all these options will be discussed when the group gathers again and this time the public will have the chance to listen.

“Our next meeting we’re going to have open to the public, we’re going to have a joint meeting of boards of county and the city,” Niedzinski said. “And we’re going to invite other stakeholders in the community.”

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