State OKs permit for Grosse Ile free bridge repairs; fed permit still out
State environmental regulators on Wednesday granted a permit for repair work on the Grosse Ile Parkway Bridge.
The long-awaited repair project on the island's free bridge now awaits a federal permit, which has been delayed as historical concerns are evaluated by a state board. That review could last through mid-June.
The bridge is owned and operated by Wayne County, and handles 75% of the traffic to the 10,000-person island.
It closed in May of last year, leaving the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge as the only option for residents and visitors while the other bridge is shutdown.
Besides Wednesday's permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), which was granted after an assessment of the bridgework on lakes and streams, Wayne County also has received a permit for the repair work from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The EGLE permit issued Wednesday expires June 2, 2026, and covers the repair of six piers at the Grosse Ile Parkway crossing of the Detroit River.
The remaining approval will come from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, county public works officials have said. The county applied for the federal permit on April 8.
Repair permits were granted in 2018, 2019 and 2020, but the 2021 work was of a "much larger scope" than past efforts, with "work on every pier of the bridge" necessary, Sarah Black, a project manager on the bridge, recently told The News.
"Shortly after we received the application, we sent to (the State Historic Preservation Office) what we thought were the historic properties they should consider, including the bridge," Black has said.
The expanded reach of the bridge work widened the historical concern, including archaeological sites and other historic sites on the island of Grosse Ile, she added.
Wayne County has said the timetable for reopening the bridge is late 2021.
In February, when the Wayne County Commission approved $9 million for bridge repairs, the goal was to re-open in September.
When the bridge closed last may, the county had expected the bridge work to begin in April 2021. But Wayne County only applied for the federal permit that month.
Island residents have been frustrated with the ongoing delays in repairs, and the cost and inconvenience of having to use a toll bridge.