Kaukauna to fix Veterans Memorial Bridge by May 2021

Veterans memorial Bridge

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WLUK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard is giving Kaukauna less than three years to fix a bridge near the downtown.

Although it's safe for drivers to cross, the Veterans Memorial Bridge's lift capabilities haven't been in regular operation since the 1980s.

Scott Veith of Kaukauna told FOX 11 he hasn't been able to experience the historical Fox River locks in Kaukauna for several years.

“When we were younger we went through it a couple of time. It’s worth to take a day and go through the locks and through the whole system," said Veith.

Boaters can't get on the five Kaukauna locks because the Veterans Memorial Bridge hasn't been operational.

“We have a system of five locks that have been fully restored since about 2015," said Jeremy Cords, Fox River Navigational System Authority CEO.

Cords said the inoperable drawbridge affects the lock system.

“We can’t open up these locks because the boats can’t fit underneath the inoperable bridge," Cords said.

The Coast Guard told the city last month, in a letter, that the bridge needs to be fixed no later than May 1, 2021. Mayor Tony Penterman said the problem is with funding.

“Because the bridge is in such good shape, it qualifies for less federal money, meaning the tables are flipped around. So, it'll be 80 percent municipalities funded and 20 percent state- and federal-funded," said Penterman.

Penterman told FOX 11 the city sent letters to state legislators, hoping to find additional funding for the $2.2 million project.

"They wanted to do it a few years ago, but we didn't have the funding then," explained Penterman.

Cords said despite the cost, it'll be worth the money.

"The Fox River Valley, from the Bay of Green Bay to Lake Winnebago could realize a potential impact of $290 million," said Cords.

And for residents like Scott Veith, it's worth the experience, too.

The city of Kaukauna is hoping to get a one-year extension to fix the bridge.

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