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Lower Tahquamenon Falls gets new pedestrian bridge

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Contractors used a helicopter to lift the four sections of a new 142-foot-long pedestrian bridge into place at the Lower Tahquamenon Falls.

The operation began Wednesday morning after a rain delay and took approximately four hours to complete. Barricades at Tahquamenon Falls State Park allowed park visitors to safely view portions of the work from outside a 200-foot safety zone.“This bridge will allow for easier park staff and emergency services access to help maintain and keep the island safe,” said Tahquamenon Falls State Park manager Kevin Dennis.

The bridge is part of a larger project intended to create universal access to an island at the Lower Falls, something that was previously unavailable.

Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The project also includes 350 feet of boardwalk connecting the mainland to the bridge abutment location and a half-mile, barrier-free pathway around the perimeter of the island.

The $1.28 million project is being paid for with Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division capital outlay funding.

A crew from Howell used a helicopter to individually lift the bridge sections into the air and carry them roughly 700 yards to where they were placed on temporary connection abutments, which will be removed after the bridge installation project is completed.

Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The bridge is anticipated to open for public use in October.

During a 2017 process to update the park’s management plan, 80% of 634 respondents to a public survey said they would be more likely to visit the island if there was an accessible bridge.

Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Lower Tahquamenon Falls is situated four miles downstream from the park's Upper Falls.

The waters of the Tahquamenon River are amber colored from tannins leached from hemlock, spruce and cedar swamps drained by the river. The water churned by the action of the falls causes the river’s trademark large amounts of foam.

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