Bay City Commissioners are considering options to paying millions for the city-owned Liberty and Independence Bridges. Colorado-based United Bridge Partners’ plan involves developing a new Independence Bridge high enough to not have to open for ships, while refurbishing Liberty Bridge. Proponents say there would be private financing, with construction involving local labor and materials to boost the economy.
UBP representatives say a new Independence Bridge could open by the end of 2020, with financial support from an all electronic toll. Skeptics say a toll would drive motorists to the state-owned Veterans and Lafayette Bridges.
Commissioners will have to decide between the UBP plan or an alternative from Florida Drawbridge Incorporated (FDI Services). Their proposal would fix both bridges’ aging equipment first, also using local material and labor, before deciding with the city whether to to go with longterm rehabilitation or new structures.
Support would come from state and county resources and a local millage, but there would be no toll. The city would still own both bridges.