One of the "Freinds" early accomplishments was the bridge over West River Road.
Early on in the history of the “Friends” we were discussing with the DNR the future needs of the trail as it got developed.
The DNR told us that the crossing of West River Road was going to be an issue! The best possible answer was a bridge; but a bridge was going to be very expensive. The DNR said that they could get some money from the Federal government but that would require a “local match” of which the DNR said they did not have the required funding to do the job.
The “Friends” decided to attempt to get the funding needed! We are so very fortunate to live in an area with so many great benefactors that want to make West Michigan a great place to live!
We approached the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and the Steelcase Foundation, with a quick return of $100,000 between the two. That was not going to quite make the total as the need was approximately $125,000. We were so fortunate to have so many great supporters that we actually exceeded the need and had enough funding left over to build the gazebo just north of the bridge as tribute to those that made the bridge a reality!
At the time the DNR estimated that the bridge would serve over 20,000 people per year! We believe that estimate has now been quite low as the bridge and the trail is used year around, at all hours of the day!
Whenever you use the bridge remember the alternative that we really did not want to see was a jog in the trail over to the intersection at Samric Ave. and then crossing with the light there. This alternative was certain to cause many problems. We are proud to say that with the generous people and organization in our area we have this great bridge!