Niles Main Street Bridge to open Thursday

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Photo by Larry Wilson The new Niles Main Street Bridge as seen from one of the lookouts.

Photo by Larry Wilson
The new Niles Main Street Bridge as seen from one of the lookouts.

More than a year after work began, the new Main Street Bridge in Niles is just days away from opening to traffic.

Chris Jacobs, project engineer with the Michigan Department of Transportation, said the bridge is scheduled to open for good on Thursday — about a month behind original estimates.

“The construction itself went really well once we got past a couple utility conflicts,” he said. “Other than that it went smooth. They made up quite a bit of time.”

People will be allowed to take a tour of the bridge from 2 to 4 p.m. prior to the roadblocks being lifted for traffic flow.

“We will be opening up to traffic shortly after that,” Jacobs said.

At least one official from MDOT and the project’s contracting company will be on hand to answer questions as people have a chance to see the bridge up close for the first time.

“People can ask questions and take their time to look at everything, take pictures or whatever they want,” he said.

City Administrator Ric Huff said MDOT has control of the bridge and how the opening would be celebrated because it is MDOT’s project.

“We tried to have a bridge party the night before opening but we were turned down by MDOT,” Huff said.

Work isn’t completely finished.

Jacobs said they would return next spring to finish placing plants in the rain gardens, plant trees, plant permanent seeding and paint portions of the bridge.

“We won’t close the bridge down again for that,” he said. “It should be a real minimal impact next year. Hopefully, people won’t notice we are there.”

Work began in October 2014 to tear down the 90-year-old bridge, which spans the St. Joseph River. Jacobs said they’ve been able to stick close to the project’s $10.6 million budget.