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I Profess My Love For Driving Over The Sixth Street Bridge [Video]

UPDATE: The City Commission has REJECTED the study!

The recent Grand Rapids City Commission decision to look into turning the Sixth Street Bridge into a lame pedestrian-only bridge leaves me a little sad.

What better way is there to get over the Grand River than driving over the Sixth Street Bridge?

The Finns of the Upper Peninsula call it ‘sisu‘, in Spanish speaking cultures it’s known as ‘duende‘. It doesn’t translate well to English but basically it means living life with a spirit and an authentic grit.

And it accurately describes the sub-culture of Grand Rapidians who enjoy driving over the ancient Sixth Street Bridge. 

Built in 1886, the first vehicle that went over it was a horse drawn cart. It had to be saved in 1975 when it was first threatened with demolition.

And now the City Commission has committed $50,000 for a ‘study’ to see if it should be converted to a pedestrian only bridge like the Blue Bridge and the Gillette Bridge downtown.

‘Bullcrap!’ I cry.

The city just spent $2 million to bring it up to code not more than five years ago!

Sure, the Sixth Street Bridge is not for everybody. It’s narrow, has no center line and sits down low, close to the water. The Grand at flood stage covers the deck easily, but there’s something about that old bridge that I love.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the quickest way for East Siders to get to the Broadway Bar. (I hear it’s spectacular at Christmas!)

Maybe it’s the fact that people my age can relate to being put out of commission just because you’re a little old, stuck in your ways and don’t look modern any more.

But there are those of us who don’t need a center line in life. We can perceive things just by sizing them up with our eyes.

Sure, it looks like you’re not going to get by that Econoline van with the wide rear view mirrors, but you do, every time.

There are some of us who like to live life low, and close to the water line, able to see the flotsam and jetsam of the Grand flow under our floorboard.

We prefer riding our bikes over shady looking wood planks, wondering if the next one will hold us.

We like to get close to other vehicles and mix it up and swap paint if need be, in order to make it to Maggie’s before they close for a burrito.

We love the Sixth Street Bridge, and while one day we may have to walk across it, right now we stand up in solidarity and say there is no better way to cross the mighty Grand than low and tight.

It’s a classic.

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