Ferrysburg city officials hope to earn state grant in third attempt to replace bridge

FERRYSBURG, Mich. — The Ferrysburg City Council will likely approve the city’s application for an MDOT grant, Tueday for a third consecutive year, in hopes of replacing Smith’s Bridge over Spring Lake.

Built in 1972, Smith’s Bridge has about five years left of life in it, according to Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger paraphrasing its last 2016 assessment. The bridge’s surface is worn and its box beams inside are starting to disintegrate he added.

The grant is due by May 3 and follows voters rejecting a millage to replace the bridge last year, as well as the state denying the city’s grant in 2016 and 2017 stating insufficient funds available. Bessinger says the city is asking the state for $8.5 million, and proposing the city match those funds by 15 percent and pay the engineering expenses of about $1.8 million if awarded.

“It’s a vital link for safety purposes for getting emergency personnel to the other side of the city,” Bessinger said of Smith’s Bridge. “By law we’re required to have our bridges inspected every two years: when it was last inspected in 2016, they found some major issues with it, and that’s when they suggested we start thinking about replacing the bridge.”

In order to extend the life of the bridge, Bessinger says last year their city council reduced the weight limit on the bridge from 55 tons to 35 tons.

The city will learn in the fall whether they earned the grant; if not, Bessinger says they’ll return to voters and propose a millage.

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