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United Bridge Partners is proposing a toll crossing of the Hood River in Oregon, represented by this artist's conception of the span.

BRIDGE CLOSING: Independence to be Shut 3 Months for Repairs

Bay County Officials Still Mum on Privatized Toll Bridges Proposal

January 7, 2018       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Get ready for traffic problems!

The City of Bay City has announced Independence Bridge will be closed for repairs for three months beginning Monday.

The closure will be in effect January 8, 2018, through March 30, 2018. Traffic will be detoured across the Liberty Bridge, using Woodside and Marquette avenues.

This closure is necessary to replace the steel grid deck and stringers on the bridge.

Contact Rachel Phillips at 989-894-8181 for information.

Meanwhile, city officials are still grappling with negative public reaction to a proposal to sell the Independence and Liberty bridges to a private company that would operate them on a toll basis.

According to minutes from a Dec. 16 meeting, Bay County officials have determined to wait for a city decision on the cross-for-pay plan before taking action.

The Bay County Commission meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. but there is no bridge discussion on the agenda.

An estimated 25,000 vehicles cross Independence Bridge daily while an estimated 17,000 vehicles cross Liberty Bridge per day. That would approximate more than 15 million crossings annually.

According to the proposal by a Denver firm, all tolls would be charged electronically through transponders that motorists would have to buy for an estimated $35 each. The motorists then would receive bills periodically or costs would be paid through credit cards. No plans have been put forth about how crossings by travelers from other areas would be paid.

United Bridge Partners anticipates a 30 percent drop in average daily traffic once the tolls are implemented. Even if such a reduction in traffic results, estimates are the private company would derive about $16 million in revenue each year from bridge tolls.

Projected tolls would be 50 cents per crossing for city residents and $2 for other county residents, according to the firm.

Observers point out the drop in traffic because of tolls may depress the local economy plus cause crosstown and city-county animosities not experienced since Bay City and West Bay City merged in 1903.

An estimated 70 percent of Bay County's population of 105,000 lives outside the city, resulting in out-city residents paying the lion's share of bridge tolls, other observers note.

Out-city motorists would likely make about 30,000 vehicle crossings daily, based on population percentages, while city drivers would cross about 12,000 times daily.

The unseen factor would be the effect of greater use of Veterans and Lafayette bridges since many respondents to an MLive.com poll have stated they would avoid using the toll bridges.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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