Historic Whites Bridge could be rebuilt by 2019

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. --  A historic covered bridge destroyed by an arson nearly five years ago could soon be rebuilt after the community put in countless hours raising money.

"Just to see the community come together for a project like this, it makes me happy," said Whites Bridge Historical Society treasurer Nancy Stroosnyder. "I know it’s going to make a lot of people happy when that construction begins and finally ends.”

Stroosnyder said a few days ago the group had their opening bids for construction, with the lowest bid from Davis Construction in the amount of $616,384.89, which ended up being less than the Engineers Estimate of $759,000.

“The engineering estimate verses the final bid, it was actually $142,650 under the engineering bid," said Stroosnyder. "That was like wow, we’ve got money, this is going to happen.”

Davis Construction will use the funds to build the Whites Bridge, which burned in July 2013. Officials called the incident an arson.

The loss of the bridge destroyed a route for many drivers and a big piece of Ionia County history.

“For the people that have to drive around, it’s probably, I thought they said 17 miles," said Stroosnyder.

The new bridge will fix detour problems, and the bridge will be able to carry heavy traffic such as emergency vehicles, which the original bridge that was built in 1867 could not do.

"There will be security cameras installed, flame retardant coating," said Stroosnyder. "Hopefully that will keep that type of mischief at bay.”

Stroosnyder said the community rallied around the project, raising thousands of dollars to make rebuilding possible. She said MDOT has estimated a completion date of July 2019.

“MDOT is still going through the bid, they have to look for any inaccuracies," said Stroosnyder. "Once that’s complete, then they’ll schedule a pre-construction meeting. It’s at that time Davis should be able to give us an idea of their schedule."

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