Southern De Pere Bridge Could Move Forward

Southern De Pere bridge could move forward

By Lee Reinsch
Press Times Correspondent

DE PERE – Pending environmental studies, headaches for those traveling over the Fox River in rush-hour traffic could be on their way to alleviation.
A second bridge between the east and west sides could be just the panacea, according to some.

The De Pere Common Council got an update on the long-awaited southern bridge project from Cole Runge, principal transportation planner for the Brown County Planning Commission and director of the Brown County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) on May 21.

The project would create another bridge over the Fox River and a divided four-lane arterial street corridor between the intersection of County Highways GV and X in the Town of Ledgeview and the intersection of County Highways EB and F in the Town of Lawrence, Runge said.

The project could also include a new full-access interchange at Interstate 41.

The Federal Highway Administration in March approved traffic studies done last year and concurred with a long-held opinion on the location.

“All of the entities involved (DOT, Federal Highway Administration, and Brown County) agree that the only viable alternative for the future in terms of handling future projected traffic volume is with the new bridge at Rockland and Red Maple roads, with the new interchange (at) Southbridge Road and I-41,” Runge said.

That location isn’t final and could change based on environmental findings, he said.

Environmental studies are underway and should be finished by May or June of next year.

After that, bridge design is expected to take two years, and then work could start on the bridge in 2022 or 2023, Runge said.
And it wouldn’t be done overnight.

“We’re assuming we’ll have to do it in five phases, starting west and working east until we’re finished, and we would expect to finish it in 10 years from the time we start,” he said.
Because it would directly link the industrialized areas to highways, the bridge would reduce shipping costs, Runge said.

It would also lessen traffic congestion without an expensive expansion of the Claude Allouez Bridge or Highway 57 south of downtown De Pere.

Because the bridge and connecting streets would have bike lanes and pedestrian walkways, it would give employers an added reason to remain in or relocate to the area, Runge said.

Runge said the county is seeking federal and state funds to offset the local costs associated with the project.

“We have some requests in to the state for some funding from the state budget at this point, and we have our eyes on some federal grant programs,” Runge said.
Alderman Jonathon Hansen said citizen support is crucial.

“There are some significant funds that lawmakers can work with, so if this is important to you, I recommend that you reach out to your representatives to make this go forward,” Hansen said.

Mayor Mike Walsh echoed Hansen’s plea for people to contact state legislators.

“We’ve been working with them very diligently and need them to get on board,” Walsh said. “We’ve had discussions with our local and valley representatives, and due to the fact that we’re now in a little competition for money with the Highway 41 project that reared its head a year or so ago, we need people and businesses to contact their representatives to get this project off the ground.”

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De Pere City Council Allocates Stadium Tax Rebate

In big news last week, the De Pere City Council allocated nearly $1.3 million in excess tax money to various city projects. Nine projects were selected in total, and five of the projects likely would have been completed regardless of the Tax Refund.

The approved projects are as follows:

  • Re-write of City Zoning Code – $45,000
  • Establishment of City Brand – $100,000
  • De Pere Public Art intitiative – $100,000
  • De Pere Streetscape Project – $150,000
  • Pool Design – $300,000
  • Southwest Park Playground Equipment – $80,000
  • Splashpad – $300,000
  • Voyageur Park Amphitheater/Stage – $125,000
  • Voyageur Park Playground Equipment – $200,000

During deliberations, the City Council indicated that approximately $725,000 of the expenses were scheduled to happen in future budgets, effectively acting as debt relief. $325,000 of the discretionary funding was for improvements to Voyageur Park, including playground equipment and a permanent structure for housing music, theatre, and shows. $250,000 was approved for downtown improvements, including artistic murals, benches for pedestrian, and other decorations to improve the overall visuals.

Finally, $100,000 was approved for the establishment of a City Brand. This project, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, will result in defining top priorities for our city and the way we are presented to outsiders. This will include key messaging, logo, tagline, and a marketing communications plan to help consistently share and incoporate the brand throughout websites, social media, and advertising. This initiative will include training for businesses and organizations to learn how to co-brand with De Pere to further the collective impact and outcome.