Liberty Bridge in Bay City closed until late June, early July

The Liberty Bridge closure in Bay City has been extended into the summer after an inspection and assessment by a structural engineering firm.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 9:12 AM EST
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM) - The Liberty Bridge closure in Bay City has been extended into the summer after an inspection and assessment by a structural engineering firm.

The bridge was closed on Feb. 22 when a significant pothole developed on the bridge, according to Bay City Bridge Partners (BCBP).

“The pothole that caused the closure is a serious one, a significant safety hazard that continues to worsen,” said Kevin Bischel, BCBP project director. “We were disappointed. We’ve been staging the work to keep the bridge open as much as possible.”

Recent soaking rains followed by freeze and thaw cycles are causing the concrete to deteriorate, as explained by Bischel. Inspectors also found these conditions are causing similar deterioration concerns with several joints on the north side of the bridge deck.

“It’s pretty bad. And the troubling part is that even if we replace the one spot where we do have a pothole, we’re concerned that we’re seeing symptoms of that elsewhere. So we would be chasing that damage in other spots and that’s what really caused us to close the bridge,” Bischel said.

In December, BCBP switched traffic to two lanes on the bridge’s north side and started removing and replacing the pavement on the south lanes. Work was staged this way with the intent of keeping the bridge open to traffic during construction, BCBP said.

Crews perform work on the Liberty Bridge.
Crews perform work on the Liberty Bridge.(Bay City Bridge Partners)

“That is still our intent, however, due to the severity of the concrete deterioration at several locations, it is not feasible to reopen the bridge until the southern lanes have been rebuilt,” Bischel said. “The bridge needs work. And that’s really why we’re doing this project. We knew the deck needed to be replaced. We were just hopeful it would last a few more months and got us through the construction phase.”

Bischel said with weather permitting, the bridge will reopen to a couple of lanes of traffic by the end of June, just in time for the Bay City Fireworks Festival.

“We are aware of that date and we’re doing everything we can to get that bridge open as soon as possible. Hopefully, we get some nice weather this spring and the contractor can start pouring concrete as soon as they’re able and get the southern lanes reopened,” he said.

BCBP plans to route traffic onto the south side while working on the north side.

“This is a difficult message to communicate to Bay City,” Bischel admits. “Our mission from the start has been and continues to be creating safe and reliable bridges for Bay City. Our goal remains keeping the bridges open to traffic as much as possible during construction to minimize the impact on residents and surrounding businesses. We are disappointed that the weather has caused this unfortunate inconvenience on this phase of the project, but we are taking action to keep our neighbors safe. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding while we navigate this new development together.”

Bischel also said the Liberty Bridge will be raised in the upright position on April 1 for shipping season.