Bay City Commissioners Approve Language For Bridge Leases

Tonight, August 2, at their regular meeting, Bay City commissioners voted to approve language enabling the mayor and city clerk to execute a lease agreement between the City of Bay City (City) and Bay City Bridge Partners (BCBP) for Liberty Bridge. A vote on a similar lease agreement for Independence Bridge will follow at a later date.

The approved lease language is consistent with the original acquisition & development agreement, with added details and protections for the City. The City and BCBP entered into their original agreement in 1/2/2020, with BCBP committing to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the rehabilitation and modernization of the Liberty Bridge and build a new replacement for the Independence Bridge at no cost to the City.  

To prepare for the upcoming construction, BCBP will be hosting a public open house where members of the community can find out more about the project and ask questions.  BCBP contractors will also be available to discuss potential business opportunities for vendors, suppliers and subcontractors as part of the construction project.

Public Open House / Business Opportunities Event

Thursday, August 12, 4-7pm at City Hall

Since January 2020, BCBP has reimbursed the City for all maintenance and repair services on Liberty and Independence, funded and engaged movable bridge experts to conduct thorough inspections of both bridges, worked to pass necessary legislation to allow this innovative public/private partnership, and initiated environmental reviews and engineering work.

“Our commitment to Bay City and this project has been unwavering,” says Kevin Bischel, BCBP project director. “We are invested in this community and in the safe process of improving both of these structures for the good of those who depend on them. It’s exciting to see things moving forward!”

Commissioners were also provided updates on the project that included the following:

  • Environmental update – Based on assessments, no historic resources, adjacent properties, or endangered or threatened species will be impacted by the construction on either bridge. Team experts have coordinated with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and United States Fish & Wildlife Service on the mussel habitat – which should not be impacted. Crews will follow work restrictions and dates for in-stream work to prevent impacts to breeding species.  In addition, no significant permanent noise or air impacts will be created as a result of either project. 
  • Liberty Bridge Update – Design of the Liberty bridge rehabilitation is nearing completion and bridge deck removal work is scheduled to begin in October 2021. The mechanical and electrical systems will be upgraded and replaced over the winter months.  Traffic will be reduced to two lanes during this time. A more detailed traffic plan will be shared with the public when it is complete.

The proposed design for Liberty Bridge will include several aesthetic enhancements and will likely include new color changeable LED lighting along the southern portion of the bridge that is over the water, the City logo on the tender post, and community banners on light posts along the bridge.

  • Independence Bridge – Design of the new replacement bridge is underway.  BCBP presented a proposed alignment for the new Independence Bridge that is located just east of the existing bridge in order to keep the old bridge operational during construction. The bridge profile will also be raised by approximately 11 feet to reduce the number of bridge openings.  Construction on Independence bridge is expected to begin in mid-2022.

“Tonight’s approval by the commissioners is another important step forward on the journey to utilize this innovative public/private bridge partnership for the benefit of Bay City residents and businesses,” said Dana Muscott, Bay City manager. “It is exciting to know the project is well underway and certain to bring progress, jobs, and renewed excitement to our city.”