The new WIS 116 bridge in Winneconne, Wisconsin offers more than an important connection in the area’s transportation system; it improved a small town’s connection to the Wolf River by providing outdoor recreation alongside transportation.
The Winneconne bridge has a special history in Wisconsin. It was only the state highway bridge where anglers could legally fish. When it was time to replace the original structure, which was built in 1934, planners took great care to seize an opportunity.
The new bridge was built alongside the old one to eliminate the need for a half-hour detour during construction. And the new bridge, in addition to improving traffic safety and flow, introduced several features for people to enjoy the river.
First, the project raised the deck of the bridge so that boaters on the river no longer wait for a section of it to be raised. It offered not only six-foot shoulders, but a six-foot sidewalk across the bridge on one side and a 10-foot path on the other, which offers snowmobilers a route in the winter.
The project’s crowning features are two platforms alongside the bridge that each extend about 220 feet from shore, greatly expanding the opportunities to fish or be close to the water.
Initial resistance to the project turned into strong support when it became clear how much the project offered the community and its local businesses. The bridge, which won national recognition and was a finalist in America’s Transportation Awards, is not just a route, it’s a destination.
Each Wisconsin Department of Transportation project confronts a transportation issue; however, as demonstrated in Winneconne, planners are always looking for opportunities to address the basic needs but, also, reach for opportunities to strengthen communities, improve business and build on our quality of life.
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