More options discussed for Bay City bridges - WNEM TV 5

More options discussed for Bay City bridges

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

More options are being considered for the future of the Liberty and Independence bridges in Bay City.

The public was invited to share their ideas, one week after residents spoke out against privatizing and tolling the bridges.

“I thought the meeting went really great,” said Andrew Niedzinski, president of the Bay City Commission. “We had a lot of good community input. And I think together we’re really starting to build that community solution.”

Niedzinski was one of the many local, county, state and community leaders on hand for a meeting about Bay City’s bridges.

As TV5 has reported extensively, the Liberty and Independence bridges are in need of repair.

This group is trying to figure out how to solve that problem.

Niedzinski said the best option is a state takeover of the Independence Bridge.

“The extension of M-15 from Center Avenue to I-75, I think that’s kind of the first priority of what we’re going to attempt to do,” Niedzinski said.

So how realistic is it that the state would take over the Independence bridge? At least one expert we talked to gives that notion a fair shot.

“I definitely think it’s worth a shot,” said Jim Lillo, with the Bay County Road Commission.

Lillo said the city has gone down this road before with little success, but said requirements needed to declare a road a state highway has changed recently.

“We need to rekindle and restart those talks,” Lillo said.

City leaders said having the state handle the Independence Bridge would allow Bay City to focus on the Liberty Bridge.

Whatever is decided one thing is for sure, local residents say a decision needs to be made soon.

Privatizing the bridges or asking voters to approve a millage are other options being discussed. For now, Niedzinski wants to see Michigan make the Independence Bridge part of a state highway.

“It would be tremendous,” Niedzinski said. “That would be a solution that’s been in the process for 30 years.”

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