Lawmaker proposes bill to fund repairs for Main Street Bridge

A Green Bay Alderwoman says the bridge will fail, it’s only a matter of when
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Recent estimates from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation show that 15,400 vehicles travel across the Ray Nitschke Memorial Bridge, also know as the Main Street Bridge, daily.

Yet, it is in need of repairs.

Rep. Kristina Shelton, (D) Green Bay, introduced a bill on Monday that would provide $1.2 million towards fixing the bridge.

“I know that a lot of folks don’t want to spend $1.2 million on a bridge, but I would rather do that now then whenever it’s not functioning and we’re put into a position where we have to scramble for that funding after the fact,” Shelton said.

The lawmaker also said money for the bridge’s repairs were included in Governor Tony Evers initial budget proposal but Republicans nixed it.

“If we don’t have a functioning infrastructure that supports our economy and our community, then we’re not going to be able to do what we do every single day, which is to wake up and get to work,” Shelton said.

Shelton’s proposed bill would take out the $1.2 million from the DOT’s general fund and it also includes $200,000 for the University of Wisconsin System and $800,000 for special education programs because she said “we have to meet maintenance of effort standards to use general funds.”

The bill came as the Mason Street Bridge remains out of commission since Tuesday, July 6. Last week, DOT officials expressed cautious optimism that the bridge could reopen by the end of July.

Unlike some of the other bridges that go across the Fox River, the city of Green Bay maintains and operates the Main Street Bridge and the responsibility falls on the city to make repairs.

“We know that the Main Street Bridge will fail. We don’t know when it will fail, we’ve been putting it off because our budgets have been so tight,” Alderwoman Barbara Dorff of the Green Bay City Council said,

For the last four years the city has rolled the dice by choosing not to include Main Street Bridge repairs in the upcoming year’s bond funding, according to Dorff who represents District 1 and chairs the finance committee.

“We had some hope that either the state or the federal government [were] going to come through with some funding for us,” Dorff said.

We reached out to all the elected GOP lawmakers representing the Green Bay area at the State Capitol and they either declined to comment or were unavailable.

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