KEENE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A historic covered bridge in Ionia County that was destroyed in a fire three years ago has the received to the go-ahead to rebuild.
White’s Bridge crossed the Flat River on White’s Bridge Road in Keene Township, between Belding and Lowell. It burned down in the early hours of July 7, 2013. Firefighters arrived too late to save it and the 146-year-old bridge crashed into the water. No one was hurt.
Thursday, the Michigan Department of Transportation announced it taking bids for the reconstruction of a replica. The letting date will be August 5.
The Whites Bridge Historical Society has raised more than $475,000 through grants and donations to rebuild a replica of the 146-year-old bridge.
MDOT has completed all testing and have secured all of the necessary permits from Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the natural river permit and approval from the State Historic Preservation Office.
The original White’s Bridge, which was built in 1867, was the oldest covered bridge in use in Michigan before it was destroyed. There were only four bridges of its kind built in the U.S, all of them in West Michigan.
The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office says the fire that destroyed the original bridge was arson. Sheriff Dale Miller said in a Thursday statement that the investigation into the fire is still ongoing and asked anyone with information to contact authorities. He said there is a $7,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.
The sheriff’s office can be reached at 616.527.5737.