A local investor recently proposed replacing the bridge on South Lawson Drive in Green Lake, but the bridge was evaluated last year as structurally sound for roughly the next two decades.
Additionally, city officials say replacing the bridge is not a priority as they have more pressing matters to deal with.
Several weeks ago, the Commonwealth reported that local investor Mike White believes the bridge in its current state hampers economic growth and is a safety hazard for those going under the bridge by boat.
White proposed damming up the old bridge and replacing it with a taller bridge just down about 100 yards to the west, toward Hattie Sherwood Campground.
Because the current bridge hangs quite low, White said it’s difficult for people to get their boats under it to dock in the Dartford Mill Pond.
“At this point, the city of Green Lake has no plans to raise or replace the bridge,” said Green Lake Mayor Ray Radis, noting the city had “more relevant priorities.”
On a similar note, Public Works Director Jason Carley, who said he’s impartial toward moving the bridge, noted the bridge passed an inspection by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in June 2020.
In fact, he said the bridge is “still in really good shape” as there are “no safety issues with the structure of the bridge itself.”
“To say that it’s unsafe isn’t necessarily true,” Carley added. “Structurally, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
However, safety issues can arise from boaters being irresponsible.
For example, Carley said boaters are largely navigating the bridge at their own risk as the room they have underneath can fluctuate with water levels.
“It is kind of at your own risk, which could potentially be a hazard to somebody passing under there and not paying attention or not knowing what they’re doing,” he said. “You’re limited with the size of the boats that have clearance under the bridge.”
If the bridge were to be moved, Carley noted the channel connecting it to the Dartford Mill Pond would have to be dredged out, which would require approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Moving the bridge would require a significant amount of testing and engineering, he added, as it could disturb the local wildlife habitat in the Mill Pond.
The possible disturbance of wildlife could further complicate the DNR’s approval process.
According to Carley, the cost of replacing the bridge was $1 million in 2018.
He said the city will have to consider replacing the bridge at some point down the road, but it is not a priority while the bridge remains structurally sound.
“There’s road projects and infrastructure projects that I’m focused on right now,” Carley said. “When [the bridge’s structural integrity] starts becoming a bigger issue, then it’s going to be addressed.”
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