Main Street Bridge replacement delayed

Published 8:00 am Thursday, November 21, 2013


The replacement of the Main Street Bridge in Niles will not happen this year and will likely be delayed until 2015, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa said Wednesday the state is still working to solve issues concerning the state- and federally-funded project.

“The physical constraints of the project itself are complex enough that they are raising enough questions early on that we clearly need to address them before we start the process,” he said. “We are looking forward to getting this started. We want to be in and out as quickly and as soon as we are able. At the same time, we want to make sure we do it right the first time.”

The $6-million dollar project was originally scheduled to begin at the end of this year or early next year.

Schirripa said MDOT wants to complete the project in one construction season, meaning next winter would be the earliest they could start.

“We are looking at starting in 2015, so essentially delaying it just over a year to a year and a half at the most,” he said.

Schirripa said they will still follow the same aesthetic plan for the bridge as voted on by Niles residents earlier this year.

The Main Street Bridge, which spans the St. Joseph River in downtown Niles, was built more than 90 years ago. It was last rehabilitated in 1996.

The history of the bridge can be traced back to the mid-1800s.

The first main street bridge was a wooden one built in 1845 by Henry Holmes for $2,000.

A second wooden bridge was built in 1854 for $2,500.

An iron “bowstring” bridge replaced the wooden bridge in 1868 and stood for 51 years before being torn down and replaced by the bridge Niles has today.