Every Closure an Opportunity

Randy Morrow of the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center (SBVC) knows exactly what he wants to come from the Highway 42/57 bridge closure next year: more tourists stopping, and staying, in Sturgeon Bay.

“We’re using this as a fantastic way for people to discover Sturgeon Bay and discover what we have to offer,” he said at a May 16 Bridge Closure Opportunity meeting.

Morrow and Todd Trimberger from the SBVC led the meeting, which was attended by a number of local business owners and government officials, including Rep. Garey Bies.

The meeting focused mostly on discussion of what traffic routes will be used to reroute the roughly 15,000 cars a day which use the 42/57 bridge. The rough draft that the DOT has laid out sends northbound traffic up Neenah Avenue and then down 5th Avenue before eventually meeting up with Egg Harbor Road.

Southbound traffic would come into Sturgeon Bay from Egg Harbor Road and then proceed down Jefferson and 3rd Avenue before heading out of town via Green Bay Rd.

Some residents and business owners expressed concerns that bringing traffic in via Neenah, which isn’t the most picturesque street in Sturgeon Bay, wasn’t the best way to get travelers to want to stop in the city.

Trimberger and Morrow stressed that the plan that is laid out now is only a rough draft, and that many more discussions would be had before anything would be finalized. They also stated that they were considering other possibilities, including flipping the northbound and southbound routes.

City Administrator Steve McNeil stated that, as long as a proposed route doesn’t cost any additional money or raise any additional safety concerns, the DOT would most likely listen to whatever proposal the city presents.

“The most important thing,” he said, “is that we think about this now, while we’ve still got a year to work with it.”

The group also discussed beautification and signage issues. Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak said he would like to see businesses come together and establish some guidelines for what can and can’t be done as far as outside décor.

William Chaudoir, Executive Director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation, stated that some downtown businesses may be able to receive federal loans for façade improvements, as long as those improvements satisfy the job creation or maintenance requirements of the loans.

The Visitor Center will be hosting another meeting on the topic on June 20, which business owners and residents are encouraged to attend. Those interested can also keep up with the Bridge Closure Opportunity talks via the planning group’s Facebook page or e-mail Trimberger or Morrow with any questions.