Tolling at Liberty Bridge will begin first quarter of 2023

Bay City’s Liberty Bridge is expected to reopen at the end of the year.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 4:20 PM EST
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM) - Bay City’s Liberty Bridge is expected to reopen at the end of the year.

Instead of a toll booth, drivers will have to register and put a transponder in their car that will be used to keep track of tolls digitally.

Lynn Pavlawk, general manager of Bay City Bridge Partners, said the tolling with begin in the first quarter of 2023. She wants everyone who plans to drive on the bridge to be thinking about transponders.

“I encourage everyone to get a transponder. Transponders will guarantee that you get the cheapest rates. For the city of Bay City residents, tolling is free for five years, which means it will be free until the beginning of 2028,” she said.

Pavlawk said she was surprised by the number of people she talked to who thought they were Bay City residents but were not. Pavlawk said just because you have a Bay City mailing address, it doesn’t make you a resident.

“You must live within the city limits of Bay City,” she said.

Even if you’re a Bay City resident, as far as tolls go, you’ll have to prove it.

“If you do not have a transponder, you will pay the toll rate regardless if you’re a city resident or not because we have no way to know that you’re a city resident because you haven’t created your account with us. So, you’ll pay the toll rate plus an administrative fee,” Pavlawk said.

She said now is the time to take the necessary steps to create an account.

“Essentially, you’ll need your vehicle registration and then some way to fund an account, a credit card, a debit card,” she explained. “Your vehicle registration gives us your address so that we can verify if you live within the city limits or if you do not. And then we also will link the transponder to your license plate, which will be on your vehicle registration.”

Pavlawk was quick to point out the ability to create accounts won’t be ready until mid-December. However, you can pre-register with Bay City Bridge Partners now, so when accounts are available you’re ready.

“We will reach out to you and say it’s time, you can create your account and here’s how,” she said.

You can learn more about how transponders work or create an account here. People who pre-register can also enter to win a gas gift card.

As for the Independence Bridge, it will not be refurbished instead of building a new one.

New studies found the erosion of the bridge under the water surface was not as bad as first thought. After consulting with city engineers, it was decided that a complete rehab of the bridge was the most affordable way to move forward.

“We’re excited to do the rehab. It should be like a new bridge, just like Liberty will look, wih a neck deck, new electrical, new mechanical. But the beams and piers will stay in place,” United Bridge Partners CEO Kevin Bischel said.