BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) A long-planned road construction project in Brown County now has the support of the state. Local 5 reports the Wisconsin DOT says it will build a new interchange on I-41 to push the Southern Bridge Project forward.
For decades local leaders have pushed for the Southern Bridge Project, to be built in De Pere over the Fox River with an interchange connecting to I-41, providing a bypass for drivers to avoid the crowded Claude Allouez Bridge.
“If you travel through the De Pere area in the morning and afternoons it is very congested,” said WisDOT NE Region Director Will Dorsey.
Now a commitment from the state to help make the plan reality.
“We feel that we’re in the best position that we’ve ever been in terms of this project actually having a chance to get underway,” said Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach.
In a letter to Streckenbach, the WisDOT secretary wrote “…Wisdot will design and construct the I-41 and Southern Bridge Arterial Interchange as part of the I-41 Expansion Project.”
“It is the letter that you receive where you just go — yes!” Streckenbach said.
It is a reversal of Governor Evers’ decision earlier this year, approving expansion of I-41 between Appleton and De Pere starting in 2025, while pulling the proposed interchange from the budget.
“It makes all the sense in the world to sync the Southern Arterial Project with the I-41 Expansion Project so we’re doing both of those around the same time,” Dorsey said.
“This is a public safety issue, it is a congestion issue and this is a jobs issue,” Streckenbach said.
Streckenbach says pressure from local leaders and lawmakers made a difference.
“The grassroots efforts, the support of the legislature to the communities, the chamber, everybody coming together,” Streckenbach said.
But to get the $30 million project built the county must decide on the location of the interchange and bypass route and complete an environmental impact statement by October 2020.
“We’ve got a deadline to meet and if we meet that deadline, I think we’ve done our job,” said Streckenbach.
County officials say their preferred location for the bridge is Rockland and Red Maple roads with an interchange on I-41 at Southbridge Road. The plan is to complete the corridor by connecting the roadway to County GV in Bellevue.