Smith's Bayou Bridge deterioration confirmed

Marie Havenga • May 4, 2017 at 1:00 PM

FERRYSBURG — It's not to the state of the London Bridge, which in the catchy childhood tune was “falling down,” but the West Spring Lake Road/Smith's Bayou Bridge is deteriorating and in need of repair, according to an engineer's report.

The estimated $10 million project could be paid for by state grants and a proposed millage increase for Ferrysburg residents and businesses. The property tax levy would cost the owner of a $200,000 home an extra $100 or more per year for 20 years.

Susan Tebbe, an engineer with Williams & Works, determined that the poor condition of the bridge’s expansion joints has allowed water to leak into them and the concrete at the piers is delaminated in several places. Water is also leaking between the box beams, and the beams show signs of deterioration.

City Manager Craig Bessinger said he sent in a grant application earlier this week, seeking up to 85 percent of the cost from the state.

“We knew there were issues,” he said of the bridge. “With (Tebbe’s) inspection report, it confirms the bridge is starting to deteriorate. Her recommendation would be replacing it in about five years.”

Bessinger said he hopes the work can be done sooner. It is in the city’s budget for 2020, provided that state funds are available to help pay for it.

“We'll wait and see if we can get funding in that round of grants, or we'll see what the next step is,” Bessinger said. “We're going to keep trying for grants and try to get funding for that bridge.”

The 447-foot-long, 44-foot-wide bridge was built in 1972. Major repairs were last performed in 2008.

Should the state come through with funding, the city would be responsible for 15 percent of the cost, about $1.5 million, plus another $1.5 to $2 million in engineering costs.

Bessinger said City Council will be discussing funding during the upcoming budget process.

“We have to come up with $3.5 million for the local match and engineering costs,” he said. “We possibly could put a millage request proposal on the November ballot.”

Council is expected to decide that at its next meeting.

“We'd probably propose 1 mill for 20 years,” Bessinger said. “That would give us close to $3.5 million. But that's a council decision.” 

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