Three companies vying to take over Bay City's aging bridges laid our their plans Thursday night.
This as the city hosted a special Finance Policy Committee meeting at City Hall.
Each company had a chance to present their proposals for Liberty Bridge and Independence Bridge.
“It’s like interviewing for a job. May the best one win,” said resident Nancy Dobson. “This has been a hot topic and concern.”
Both bridges are in need of serious repairs, which could cost anywhere from $26 million to $137 million. Liberty Bridge was temporarily closed earlier this year due to a hole in the pavement and remains closed following a recent mechanical issue.
“This is something that they put on the table to see what they could get back from the companies,” said Dana Muscott, City Manager of Bay City.
Those potential costs were outlined in a report on the various options available to the city, which included repairing both bridges and tearing down or replacing one of them.
The city applied for a $20 million grant to fix up Independence Bridge. It plans on making additional grant requests to replace Liberty Bridge with a riverfront beautification project.
“We have been applying for grants, we have been continuing to apply for grants. But these bridges are at the end of their lifespan, and it’s not just a matter of maintaining them, it’s a matter of we need to rebuild them,” Muscott said.
Meanwhile, three bids are now being considered for a Public Private Partnership.
The proposal from American Roads includes:
- Maintaining & improving Independence Bridge
- Replacing Liberty Bridge with a riverside beautification project
- A tolling system that would charge city residents half the fee paid by non-residents
United Bridge Partners has different plans:
- Replacing Independence Bridge (it would remain open until the new structure is built)
- Rehabilitating and modernizing Liberty Bridge
- A tolling system that favors Bay City residents (including no tolls for five years, and no tolls for the impoverished)
Kiewit's proposal did not include specific plans for the bridges or a toll structure.
“Tolling is part of the presentation for a couple of the companies, and obviously that is their way of getting a revenue back after they purchase the asset,” Muscott said.
“I don’t think that says anyone you’re welcome to Bay City please come. That to me is not a calling card, it is not putting out the welcome mat,” said resident Dot Rifenbark.