Bay City residents will need to wait a little bit longer for an update on the Independence and Liberty Bridge lease agreements.
Those lease agreements were expected to be finalized during a closed session during Monday evening’s city commission meeting, but the commission voted to send the contract back to city staff with instructions to negotiate a better tolling structure.
According to Commissioner Jesse Dockett, while the city wants to have a business relationship with UBP, they also want to get the best deal for members of the community. City Manager Dana Muscott says these negotiations will not delay the opening of Liberty Bridge, which is slated to be in operation by the end of the year. In a presentation during the meeting, representatives of UBP said that tolling on Liberty Bridge wouldn’t begin until 2023, and that city residents would benefit from a discounted rate, including free use of the bridge for passenger vehicles for 5 years.
They also gave an update on plans for the rehabilitation of Independence Bridge, which was initially supposed to be replaced. UBP says that the foundations, piers, and beams of the bridge were found to be in better condition than expected, and that by replacing the bridge deck and railings, electrical and mechanical control systems, and making other repairs and improvements, the bridge can continue to serve for the projected 75-year life that a newly built bridge would provide. They say the rehabilitation would also cut down on the cost and environmental impact of the project, and avoid difficulties such as building over an existing 84″ storm sewer drain, potential traffic issues with “S Curves,” and relocating a railroad easement.