Village of Winneconne steps into a legal battle concerning the only bridge in town

Winneconne - The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has been looking into replacing an 83-year-old bridge in the Village of Winneconne for the last ten years, but the project has hit a snag because of a lawsuit.

WisDot needs to use a piece of property that Radtke Contractors utilizes on the Wolf River in order to build the new bridge, however the contractors don't want to move their site.

So the Village of Winneconne filed a motion to intervene in hopes of speeding up the process because right now the current bridge holds a public safety concern.

At the heart of the issue for the village is the current bridge separates the east and west side of the village, the police station is on the west side, the school district is on the east side and there are businesses on both sides.

"We have a vested interest in the safety and security of the community as well as the prosperity of the community," said Village Administrator Mitchell Foster. "This bridge is our lifeline without it we would struggle mightily."

The plan is to replace the current draw style bridge with the new bridge which would have a higher clearance and be a fixed span bridge, meaning it would not have a draw bridge.

When large boats roll through the bridge goes up, this causes traffic congestion, but the real concern is that if the bridge gets stuck open for any reason there's no easy way to get from the east side to the west side.

In Wisconsin ships have the right of way, meaning if there are mechanical issues the DOT will leave the bridge up and that could be disastrous for the village.

It causes concern for first responders and we've learned that it is a forty minute trip around the south side of Lake Butte Des Morts, so police have to make sure they have an officer on the east side at all times.

The village worries about the project being delayed into next year.

"At that point the question becomes does the DOT even have it scheduled in its budget," said Foster. "We don't know."

Village leaders tell us the lawsuit stems from WisDot attempting to relocate Radtke Contractors to a new site, but the contractors disagree that the new property is worth as much as the current one they sit on right next to the bridge.

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