SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WLUC) - At Thursday's Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board meeting, the bi-national body that supervises operations of the International Bridge elected officers for 2018.
Board member Thomas Buckingham, Sr., was elected as the 2018 chair of the SSMBA board of directors. Buckingham was appointed to the board in 2015 by Gov. Rick Snyder; he was the SSMBA vice chair in 2017. Buckingham is from Newberry, Michigan, where he is general manager and secretary for Forest Insurance Center Agency Inc., Mauck Insurance Agency Inc., and Loggers Insurance Agency II LLC.
The SSMBA board consists of eight members, four Michigan members appointed by Gov. Snyder and four Canadian members appointed by the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL), located in Ottawa, Ontario.
Micheline Dubé of Ottawa was elected vice chair for 2018. The other Canadian representatives on the board are Natalie Kinloch, Anthony Pickett, and André Girard. The other U.S. representatives are Linda Hoath, Scott Shackleton, and Nicholas White.
The SSMBA board also heard updates on a number of International Bridge Administration (IBA) projects completed during 2017.
Increased staff maintenance efforts at the bridge have paid dividends this year as the IBA implemented an asset management program set out last year. IBA crews have begun a multi-year touchup painting and maintenance project on bridge curb rail and the U.S. arch tail spans. They also cleaned and painted the two southernmost bridge spans.
In another major project, in-house crews replaced 10 of the bridge's 15 sliding plate bearings. The five remaining bearings on the Canadian arch are slated to be done next year.
"We really want to highlight the tremendous savings we've realized," said IBA General Manager Peter Petainen."To date, the IBA has saved approximately $1.28 million by performing work with IBA steeplejacks."
In other business, the SSMBA board:
- Agreed to continue to support the bridge bus program as run by the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and the Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Community Action Agency (CLMCAA). CLMCAA reported customer survey results, route changes, payment option improvements, and technology improvements for 2017-2018.
"This has been a busy year for the bridge bus, with ridership increasing and the program under evaluation. Through stakeholder engagement and rider surveys, we're striving to improve the bridge bus and maximize its impact," said Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan) City Manager Oliver Turner. "I'm pleased that the IBA is continuing to collaborate on this important service."
- Approved the bridge's 2018-2022 business plan.
- Heard an update on the IBA's submission of a $9.8 million 2017 Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant request. The grant would fund a project to widen the south side of the bridge, and include repairing and widening the retaining wall on the U.S. customs plaza.
- Heard a report on the installation of a peregrine falcon camera, which is projected to be streaming live images in 2018 when the birds return to the bridge nesting box.
The operation and maintenance of the International Bridge is totally self-funded, primarily through bridge tolls. It is not subsidized by any state, provincial or federal government entity. For more information on the International Bridge, please visit www.saultbridge.com or follow them on Twitter.