State still considering Harsens Island bridge proposal

Associated Press

Clay Township — Officials are reviewing a proposal for a drawbridge connecting the St. Clair County mainland to Harsens Island, northeast of Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has received about 280 written comments on the Detroit International Bridge Co.’s proposal. A permit application shows the 1,750-foot bridge would cross the St. Clair River’s north channel.

Access is currently only possible via boat, ferry or small plane.

Katie Fairchild, an environmental quality analyst with the DEQ’s water resource division, told the Times Herald of Port Huron that a “review of the proposed impacts, including consideration of the comments received” is next in the process.

A public hearing was held in March and the exact timing of a decision hasn’t been announced.

The bridge company operates the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. It first proposed the Harsens Island project in 2001. In 2005, the U.S. Coast Guard denied permit requests because that proposal, which included a fixed bridge, would have interfered with clearance requirements.

The DEQ denied a permit request from the bridge company in 2007, saying in part it could impact lake sturgeon habitat and spawning.

Bourke Thomas, a natural resources team leader at engineering firm Atwell, said the state has 150 days from the time it has accepted the complete project application to make a decision. Atwell is working with the DEQ on behalf of the bridge company.

The proposed bridge would stretch between the Riverview Campground Marina on the mainland and just west of the Sunset Harbor Marina on Harsens Island.