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Lowell Twp pedestrian river bridge nears completion

Lowell Twp pedestrian river bridge nears completion

The pedestrian bridge across the Grand River, part of the new Grand River Riverfront Park North at 11998 Fulton St. in Lowell Township, is scheduled to be accessible to the public by the end of June. When completed, the park will feature walking trails, a bathroom/concession building, a playground area, a ga-ga pit, a picnic shelter, an 18-hole disc golf course, a replica of a historical fur trader's cabin and other amenities.


“There are two bridges, really, and they meet on the island,” said Lowell Twp supervisor Jerry Hale. “Each section is 320 feet long. This trail will connect the new Grand River Riverfront Park North to Grand River Riverfront Park. It's going to bring a lot of people to this area, a lot of people are excited about getting across that bridge. I think there will be people coming to take wedding pictures, graduation pictures and stuff like that there.”
That June date depends on how the weather goes. Right now the area in front of the bridge is deep, sticky river mud that is very bad for your shoes. The power and Internet lines that are being put in at the same time could also cause a delay.


“It's weather-related, but we hope to be done with the pathways to it by the end of June,” Hale said. “It could be later, depending on the weather. We granted Lowell Light & Power an easement to go through both parks. They're going to put power out to Grand River Ave. to better loop their system, and fiber is going in for Vergennes Broadband in the same trench. They're going to bore under the river. I don't know how they do that, it's a directional bore and they know exactly where it's going to come out. As soon as Anlaan [the bridge contractor] is finished, then Light & Power can put that in, and then we can start.”


The project was originally scheduled to finish last fall and is a bit over budget. Hale said the major delays were caused by an endangered species and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
“It's about $200,000 over budget, really, because hurricanes caused the cost of lumber to go up, then the price of steel went up,” Hale said. “The cost of the bridge itself was $2.8 million. Getting the DEQ permits was a lot of it. We had to do a Snuff Box Mussel survey and move like a dozen snails. I think it cost $15,000 to do that. And we were lucky because, when they were doing work on a bridge in Grand Rapids, they had to move some also, and they'd already identified a spot just up river from where the Flat meets the Grand, so we also could relocate ours to that same spot. That saved us some money. We cut the trees on the island where the bridge goes through the island and chipped up the small brush. We were going to leave the logs on the island but the DEQ didn't like that because that's kind of like filling the flood plain. We had to lift all those logs with a crane onto the north shore so they could haul them away. That added $20,000.”

The project was paid for by grants and donations. “It was a challenge to raise the money we needed, and we're still a couple hundred thousand dollars short to finish the whole project, the disc golf course and everything,” Hale said. “If you look back, it's a little over a $5 million project. We got $2.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., a grant from the Lowell Area Community Fund, business people in Lowell stepped up and Lowell Twp residents donated quite a bit of money - one of them $100,000! That person remains anonymous.” At some point this summer they will have a ribbon cutting ceremony for the bridge and a grand opening for the fur trader's cabin. These events may take place as part of the “Pink Arrow Community Day: West End Reveal” event in late August “This whole community has been really supportive,” Hale said. “This community gets behind stuff if it's something they believe in. There is nothing like this in Kent County, or maybe even in West Michigan, 110 acres of park land connected by a bridge over the Grand River, it's just very unique.”

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