Harsens Island Bridge - Today's Times Herald Article

Harsens bridge developers inching forward
By ANDREA MASON, Port Huron Times Herald - Port Huron,MI,USA

Coast Guard still is seeking more details on project

Detroit International Bridge Co. expects to kick off the new year with a move forward on its Harsens Island bridge project.

Company President Dan Stamper said an initial proposal for the project was submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard but was sent back earlier this month with a request for more information.

The Coast Guard, which regulates all navigable waterways in the United States mandated the bridge be 73 feet tall or that an opening be engineered in the middle to allow larger vessels to pass through the channel to and from the St. Clair River, Stamper said.

Until the Coast Guard receives what it considers a complete application, with all questions answered, no action can be taken on the proposal, said Kurt Carlson, a civilian bridge specialist with the Coast Guard's 9th District.

Carlson could not confirm Stamper's statements about the height or design of the bridge.

Stamper expects his company to respond to the questions within a week to 10 days after the new year.

The Coast Guard is the primary regulatory agency involved in bridge construction.

Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, also has to contend with public opinion.

Chuck Miller is one of many "part timers" on Harsens Island. Miller will head home to Roanoke, Va., this weekend after spending Christmas at his island home.

He's curious about why anyone would spend millions of dollars to build a bridge to an island with slightly more than 1,200 year-round residents.

The island, which is part of Clay Township, is reachable only by ferry.

"You don't build a bridge to that," Miller said.

"You build a bridge to a major economic development."

Miller, who isn't sure where he stands on the bridge issue, wants a master plan for Harsens Island to be completed before anything else happens.

If a bridge to the mainland fits in with whatever plan the township or county has for the island, then fine, he said.

But he needs answers first.

"I don't think anyone knows what the facts are," Miller said.

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