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Manistee’s Bascule Bridge project falls behind schedule due to weather, other issues

MANISTEE — Repairs and renovations to Manistee’s Bascule Bridge continue to be behind schedule.

The Michigan Department of Transportation’s said the $12.6 million project has repeatedly been pushed back because of weather and other issues, but now, the repair work is also being delayed because the parts to fix it are hard to come by and the additional work could cost an additional $300,000 to $400,000.

MDOT’s spokesperson for the North Region, James Lake, said they are still hoping to re-open the bridge by the end of March whether or not the repairs are finished.

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“There was a manufacturing issue with some of the components that are destined to go on the bridge, and they were not made to the proper spec. So, replacement of those parts, where we can still get those installed in time to reopen is in question,” said Lake.

Lake said their top concern is getting the bridge back together and running smoothly.

“If we cannot get those parts prior to the end of March, we will likely re-open the bridge to traffic, re-open the the river to marine traffic, and come back during a later winter to install those parts,” said Lake.

Renovations have already been hampered with delays because of additional issues that were discovered during the repair work and the weather has also been a factor.

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The bridge was originally supposed to re-open in September, and then November, but the only time the bridge has been used was for Manistee’s holiday festival.

City manager William Gambill said people are eager for the bridge to reopen but they’ve been fortunate to have a nearby detour route.

“We have the Maple Street Bridge, just less than a half mile away. So, our local detour, I think people have become accustomed to it,” said Gambill.

He said the city’s tourism authority has been doing what they can to minimize the impact to area businesses.

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“They’ve been great about putting up signs, talking about the businesses being open,” said Gambill.

But for some businesses like the Hoot & Honey Bookstore, the owner, Teresa Feagins said the signage for the detour was a bit confusing, making it hard for some people to find downtown.

“They couldn’t figure out how to get back to Manistee because if they’re not familiar with the area, they don’t realize, just because the one bridge is closed, doesn’t mean they couldn’t get to the other side of town,” said Feagins.

Feagins said they can’t wait for the bridge to open back up to traffic.

“Those guys have been working so hard to try to get it completed in the timeframe they have. I really appreciate all their hard work,” said Feagins.

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