Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority gets inspection report, elects new officers

Fast facts:
– The Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board of directors met for the first time today in the board room of the new International Bridge administration building.
– The annual and fracture critical bridge inspections found ongoing maintenance is keeping the bridge in good condition.                                                                                                                   
– Michigan board member Nicholas White was elected as the 2016 SSMBA chair.

October 22, 2015 — Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) board members held their first meeting today in the board room of the new International Bridge administration building on the toll plaza.

The bi-national body, which supervises operations of the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, reviewed the results of the annual bridge inspection and the fracture critical inspection. A team of bridge engineering experts from the firms of Hardesty and Hanover (H&H) of Okemos, Mich., and MMM Group of Mississauga, Ontario, conducted the two-week-long annual inspection of the bridge in August and presented their preliminary findings at today’s meeting.

“Ongoing maintenance is keeping the bridge in good condition,” said H&H structural engineer Ed Oliver. “The overall condition of the bridge is good and we have no serious issues.”

The fracture critical inspection was conducted on the Michigan half of the bridge. Fracture critical inspections are conducted on one-half of the bridge each year, and provide a closer look at bridge components that are critical to the structural integrity of the bridge.

“We repair any structural condition deficiencies, no matter how minor, found during the inspection,” said Karl Hansen, the IBA bridge engineer overseeing the inspection. “The IBA has a long legacy of excellent bridge maintenance practices and a dedicated maintenance staff who protect the public investment in the bridge.”

The IBA reports that in the last 20 years, $17.5 million in bridge revenue has been spent on major contracted projects, such as repainting structural steel and resurfacing the concrete bridge deck. Looking ahead, the IBA’s Long-Range Capital Plan calls for spending more than $28.9 million in bridge revenue on contracted bridge repainting in the next 10 years, and an additional $28.3 million in concrete deck repair projects in the next 15 years.

In other business, Michigan board member Nicholas White was elected as the 2016 chair of the SSMBA board of directors. White was appointed to the board in March 2011 by Gov. Rick Snyder and serves as chairman of the Board Audit Committee; he was the SSMBA vice chairman in 2015. White is from Petoskey, Mich., where he owns and operates an architectural firm. The SSMBA board consists of eight members, four Michigan members appointed by Gov. Snyder and four Canadian members appointed by the Federal Bridge Corp. Ltd. (FBCL), located in Ottawa, Ontario.

Current board chair Helen Gillespie of Vancouver, British Columbia, was elected vice chair for 2016. The other U.S. representatives are Scott Shackleton and Linda Hoath of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.; and Thomas Buckingham Sr. from Newberry. The other Canadian representatives on the board are Natalie Kinloch and Glenn Hewus, both from Ottawa, Ontario. There currently is one Canadian member vacancy on the board.

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 a complete list of International Bridge tolls, visit the IBA website at

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