Brown County will take over Green Bay drawbridges Dec. 1

GREEN BAY, Wis (WBAY) -- Brown County will be in charge of downtown Green Bay's drawbridges by the end of the year.

Green Bay's Ray Nitschke Memorial Bridge on Main Street in the raised position (WBAY file photo)

The county board voted Wednesday to accept transfer of drawbridge operations from the City of Green Bay, effective December 1.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation proposed the transfer to Brown County Public Works, saying it could make operating the drawbridges more efficient. The DOT contracts with the county to maintain highways in the county.

Green Bay Public Works Director Steve Grenier told us last week the transfer was years in the planning.

The City of Green Bay currently employs 12 bridge tenders. Brown County plans to hire 5, saving the DOT about $400,000 during shipping season. And county public works can use the extra help outside of shipping season, such as driving snowplows or salt trucks during the winter.

The DOT plans to eventually automate the drawbridges so they can be operated by one person from one tower. The U.S. Coast Guard is taking public comment on the proposal to operate all three bridges remotely until October 28.