GVL/ Sydney Lim
GVL/ Sydney Lim

GV’s Little Mac Bridge reopens with new safety measures

Over Labor Day weekend safety renovations to Grand Valley State University’s Little Mac Bridge was completed.

Construction on the bridge started at the beginning in May. The changes followed a long standing petition that urged for new safety features around the bridge.

The Little Mac Bridge is located on GVSU’s Allendale campus. The bridge connects Henry Hall to the Great Lakes Plaza, is 230 foot long and spans over a 70 foot deep ravine. The bridge was previously made up of just the bridge base and side railings which were approximately five feet high. 

According to GVSU’s summer construction projects map, bridge construction was projected to take around three months. Construction involved removing the previous side railings and adding different railings to create a fenced, house-like structure surrounding the bridge. 

The petition that sparked the changes was created on Dec. 12, 2021 by two senior students, Logan Congdon and Reagan McLaughlin, following the suicide of a freshman student, Quinn Campbell, on Dec. 9, 2021. The petition specifically asks for safety netting below the bridge to prevent such incidents from occurring again. 

In the petition, Congdon terms this safety measure a “suicide barrier.” This was not the first suicide that has occurred on the bridge and Langdon and McLaughlin expressed their concerns for students who struggle with suicidal ideation.

“Horrifically, Quinn is not the first Laker to end their life on the ‘Little Mac’ bridge, and if we do not do something, he will not be the last. How many more students will pause on that bridge with thoughts of ending their life?  How can we as a campus prevent a tragedy like this one from repeating itself?” Congdon said. 

The petition received over 35,000 signatures in support of the cause. On Mar. 3, 2022, GVSU Student Senate passed a bill to “consider creating a safety barrier or net on the ‘Little Mac’ bridge.” 

According to a WoodTV article, there was some initial concern about the bridge being able to support the weight of any additional construction. Jenny Hall-Jones, GVSU’s vice president of Student Affairs, said this was something the senate had taken into consideration.

“It’s to just make sure if we were going to put some extra weight on the bridge, if we wanted to do some bridge mitigation, could we even do it if we wanted to?” Hall-Jones said. 

On Aug. 22 this year, Congdon shared a post to the petition sharing his joy about the bridge construction.

“I’m indescribably grateful and enthralled that it’s come to fruition at last,” Congdon said. “This is proof – lasting change often takes time, effort and a non-linear journey to the destination, but if enough voices come together, it is possible.” 

The bridge reconstruction was completed by the end of the first week of GVSU’s 2023 fall semester. However, the construction caused some interference with move-in and foot-traffic flow for some students during the first week of classes. 

Undergraduate senior Elyse Karasinksi said the construction of the bridge aligning with classes did affect her travel time between classes. 

“I only have a 10 minute slot to get from (Lake) Huron (Hall) to Mackinac (Hall), so when they were still painting it, it was crammed and people were walking really slow,” Karasinski said.

Karasinski thinks the bridge was a good idea for the school as a whole and believes it does not take anything away from its beauty. 

“I definitely think it was a good idea. It definitely makes me feel safer, and I don’t think it took away from the beauty of walking over the bridge at all either. You can still see through it, it’s still very much beautiful to walk on it,” Karasinski said. 

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