St. Joe marinas await completion of Bicentennial Bridge construction

NOW: St. Joe marinas await completion of Bicentennial Bridge construction

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Work began on the Bicentennial Bridge that connects Benton Harbor and St. Joe over the St. Joseph River Monday.

The drawbridge has been stuck in closed position since March 27, leaving sailboats and large powerboats unable to get through to Lake Michigan as boating season begins.

Crews got to work replacing a hydraulic cylinder on the bridge this afternoon, after the part, which is used to raise and lower the bridge was approved.

Boaters at the surrounding marinas have been patiently waiting for work to be done, after the broken part was discovered during an inspection late March.

The Anchor’s Way Marina, services around 300 boats just South of the Bridge.

Their smaller vessels have been able to pass, but as one of the only marinas in St. Joe that can service sailboats, the reopening of the bridge is crucial to their operations.

"So we heavy rely on that bridge being able to open otherwise everybody on this side of the bridge is trapped until it is able to open,” said Matt Pach the Marina’s operations manager.

While the work is imperative, it has certainly not been a sailors delight to start the boating season.

"A lot of our customers have been frustrated, especially the ones that like to get in early. The weather has been beautiful, so everyone has been a little frustrated because they wanted to get an early start to the season compared to the past couple years where it’s been a late start,” said Pach.

The construction will mostly impact traffic below the bridge, however drivers should expect some lane closures as well.

"It will be able to keep the bridge open to vehicular traffic with single lane closures and some very short total closures, but those will be a couple minutes kind of thing,” said Nick Schirripa an MDOT Spokesperson.

St. Joe Harbor Master, Michael Moran, has been in contact with MDOT to keep those impacted updated, and says things should be smooth sailing before Friday.

"Other than that, once they get it fixed, it will be open and the boating season can get started,” said Moran.

MDOT said construction could be done as early as Wednesday evening.

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