Bridge tolls are coming to Bay City. The best way to save money is to register for a transponder

Liberty Bridge is open to traffic and toll-free until June 16. You can take steps now so you’re ready when tolling begins.

Bay City Bridge Partners (BCBP) is distributing transponders now. BCBP General Manager Lynn Pavlawk says there’s time to register for the transponders before tolling begins.

“We want to ensure that the community has ample time to register, to receive their transponders, to get them on their vehicles,” Pavlawk says.

United Bridge Partners, the parent company of Bay City Bridge Partners, agreed in December 2019 to purchase Independence and Liberty bridges for $5 million, hopes to deliver fewer bridge breakdowns and closures, add event sponsorships, create educational opportunities, and more. The firm also pledges to retain the current bridge tenders and hire local union contractors for the construction work.
Here are the details about the tolls, transponders, and how to register.
Graphic courtesy of Bay City Bridge Partners
What tolling will look like

As drivers approach Liberty Bridge, hard-to-miss signage will communicate tolling information. It’s an all-electronic tolling system, so there are no toll booths.
Equipment mounted overhead will recognize registered transponders and charge according to vehicle class (or subscription rate, if the account holder chooses).
Bay City Bridge Partners opened an office in Downtown Bay City in the MDL building near Center and Washington avenues. (Photo courtesy of Bay City Bridge Partners)
Tolling rates are posted on the BCBP website.

If a vehicle crosses without a transponder, the system will read the vehicle license plate. Because there is more cost associated with billing those individuals, the fees are higher for those without transponders. Those “pay by plate” invoices will be mailed out each month.

City of Bay City residents will have free use of the bridge until 2028. To enjoy this benefit, city residents must have transponder. Click here to confirm if an address is within city limits.

How to prepare

Visit the BCBP website to sign up for a transponder. Click on the gold “Get Your BC-PASS” button to begin pre-registration. Account information and next steps will be shared via email. Once account information is verified, BC-Passes will be mailed.
Folks who prefer in-person transactions can visit the Bay City Bridge Partners Customer Service Center at 300 Center Ave., Suite 101, to register and walk out with a transponder that same day.

If drivers already use IAG partner tolling systems (E-Z Pass, SunPass, etc.) and do not want to take advantage of any discounted rates, no action is required. The EZ Pass will charge the rates according to the vehicle class on the BCBP rate chart.

The community is getting prepared. More than 13,000 people have registered since November.

How to get more information
Bay City Bridge Partners General Manager Lynn Pavlawk (Photo courtesy of Bay City Bridge Partners)
BCBP is hosting a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting on Tues., Feb. 28 at noon.

Anyone interested is welcome to attend. After the Grand Opening, the customer service team will be on-site daily to answer questions and assist with account setup.

“We’re trying to make everything as streamlined as possible,” says Customer Service Manager Sadie LeClair. “We’re doing what we can to make it easy for people to register. But if you have questions, we’re here.”

Community members with questions can email or call (989) 272-2038.

Looking ahead

Work has begun on Independence Bridge. Once the pre-rehab work is complete, the demolition and reconstruction will take place. The BCBP team intends to engage with residents by attending community events and hosting “Coffee with the Crew” gatherings to share updates.

Just like the Liberty Bridge project, the work at Independence Bridge is expected to boost the local economy.

Bay City commissioners, mayor, and manager were adamant about using local labor for the projects. Seven local unions worked on the Liberty Bridge project. The firm also tried to procure as many of the materials from local suppliers as possible.

“It’s a great investment into this community and we want people to know what we’re doing,” Pavlawk says. “And to also be proud of the fact that we’re here working with them on this significant infrastructure improvement. We’re collaborating with the city and with MDOT for timing. We want to ensure we’re doing what’s best for all.”

Read more about the bridges in earlier Route Bay City articles.
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