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A bridge linking Kalamazoo's bike path closes

A boardwalk partly covered with dirt and sticks gives way to bare joists under a concrete overpass. There is a colorful mural on the wall under the bridge and a wooden railing across rom it. You can see the river beyond the railing.
Michael Symonds
The northwest entrance to the boardwalk under the East Michigan Avenue bridge near downtown Kalamazoo on April 24, 2024. The bridge allowed Kalamazoo River Valley Trail users to avoid crossing a high-traffic intersection.

The boardwalk under the East Michigan Avenue bridge had become hazardous for users, Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Director Patrick McVerry said.

After the latest round of fire damage last fall, a bridge on Kalamazoo’s bike path closed. The city says the closure is permanent. The boardwalk is gone, though the wooden structure that supported it was still in place Wednesday.

The wooden bridge connected the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail downtown with the eastern portion of the path. It ran under East Michigan Avenue, sitting just above the Kalamazoo River.

There were several fires on the bridge, according to McVerry. But, he added, that was not the only problem with the boardwalk.

The bridge had low clearance, creating the risk that cyclists would bang their heads, McVerry said. It also tended to flood and get slippery.

“It was never really a safe alternative for bikers or walkers to use just because of, any of the recent flooding, the wood would actually get wet and then develop kind of like moss on it,” McVerry said.

A gate with a big yellow sign blocks a wide boardwalk leading under a bridge. Someone has written "the walk of shame" in spraypaint on a railing to the left. A chain with a lock closes a gap between the gate and the edge of the boardwalk.
Michael Symonds
The southeast entrance to the KRVT bridge, April 24, 2024.

He added that for now, people should use the crosswalks at street level as an alternative. He admitted that this is not ideal, given the heavy traffic on the road. McVerry said plans for a permanent replacement are still in development.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.