Thanks to Times Herald for this:
PORT HURON, MI – Members of the Port Huron Yacht Club voted to demolish the Pere Marquette Railroad bridge Sunday, citing the heavy costs of repairs to the bridge.
Commodore Pam Wall said the vote was a majority decision. The board was concerned that the upkeep for the bridge would be far more expensive than the cost of removal, and the bridge is in need of repairs.
“It’s not our mission to be a historical society,” Wall said. “We’re a yacht club.”
Wall said the measure allows the board to spend up to $300,000 for the demolition.
The board is in the midst of establishing a committee to make a plan for the yacht club’s properties and for its future, Wall said. While there are currently no concrete plans for the property once the bridge is demolished, a plan to develop the location would be included in the planning committee’s discussions.
No timeline is set for the bridge’s demolition, she said.
The club received a preliminary permit for removal of the bridge earlier this year, but are required to put together historical documentation of the bridge, including engineering plans, historical and current photographs and general historical information, before the demolition can proceed. Wall said the club is still in the process of completing this.
The Yacht Club applied for the demolition permit in March of 2012. Because the bridge looks over a navigable waterway, the club required approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. This began a long term discussion including the club, local preservationist group Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, the Army Corps of Engineers and Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office.
Marcia Haynes, president of the Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, said the decision is upsetting due to the historic nature of the bridge and its status as a landmark in Port Huron.
Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed the bridge is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and is considered to be a historic property. It was built in 1931.
“(The Port Huron Yacht Club) has never taken the time to learn what they have, the jewel that they have and own,” Haynes said.
Haynes believes the cost of the demolition of the bridge would be much higher than $300,000 due to the position of the bridge, the need for soil clean-up and the historical nature of the bridge.
Wall said the Yacht Club came to that figure from the quotes provided by the demolition company that will complete the project. The actual demolition project will cost more than $300,000, she said, but the return from recycling the bridge’s steel lowers the cost.
There will be no need for soil clean-up because the base of the structure will remain intact, Wall said.
Haynes also disputed the high cost of repairing of the bridge, stating the bridge is in excellent condition.
Haynes said the bridge serves as an aid to navigation by marking the mouth of the Black River for boats coming from the southern end of the county.
Wall said while boaters might take note of the bridge when traveling home, it’s not a formal aid to navigation. She said she has not heard concerns that the bridge’s removal will affect boaters’ ability to navigate.
The bridge was purchased by the club about 10 years ago with the plan to expand the club’s marina operation, Wall has said.
Port Huron Yacht Club (PHYC)
Information about the Bridge