Sturgeon Bay Ready for Bayview Bridge to Close on March 4

Road signs recently appeared to warn travellers of the impending Bayview Bridge closure. Photo by Len Villano

Sturgeon Bay City Administrator Steve McNeil has faith that, when the Bayview Bridge closes for some much-needed upgrades on March 4, residents and visitors traveling through Sturgeon Bay will know what to do.

“I think the city’s getting good at bridge detours. I mean, we lived through it for three years [with the Michigan St. Bridge], right?” said McNeil. “So I guess if there’s a city out there that understands how to deal with bridge closures, we’d have to have our master’s degree wouldn’t we?”

The $4.8 million upgrade to the bridge includes steel repair, bridge painting, and electrical and machinery system upgrades. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) still expects the project will be wrapped up before the 4th of July as long as the weather cooperates.

“We might still need to do some minor work on the bridge [after the 4th], but it should at least be reopened to traffic,” said DOT Communications Manager Kim Rudat.

During the closure, visitor traffic will be directed along northbound and southbound detour routes (see pop-out box) that will bring close to 13,000 extra cars a day through Sturgeon Bay. In order to help out with any traffic issues, the DOT is funding an extra $78,000 of police coverage during the closure.

“What we have is the money to provide overtime coverage and other coverage as needed,” said McNeil. “For example, the St. Patrick’s Day parade. We’ll have officers at [the Oregon St. and Michigan St. bridge] intersections and they can move cars through as there’re gaps in the parade.”

Business owners on 3rd Avenue petitioned to have the detour routes run past their businesses and ended up with the southbound route running past their establishments. Terry Ullman, owner of Door County Candy, said the 3rd Avenue shops would have liked to capture potential customers on their way into the county, but they’re ready to take advantage of whatever increased clientele they do receive.

“We would have liked to do more, but with where the economy’s at and the money in the budget it’s been tough. We’d like to have banners or something like that similar to what they’ve done in Algoma,” said Ullman. “But I think everybody’s trying to put their best foot forward.”

McNeil said he hopes the extra traffic volume does result in increased activity for businesses and doesn’t instead scare people away from downtown.

“I do hope it doesn’t have a negative impact on the businesses,” said McNeil. “I know they would’ve liked the northbound traffic to go down there, but the traffic engineers said that’d be problematic. I’m hoping [the southbound route will] get them the visibility they’re looking for.”

Ultimately, said McNeil, the city will survive this bridge closure just like it has survived its others, and residents will learn how to adapt their usual routes to minimize the impact of the increased traffic.

“I think the people that live in the City of Sturgeon Bay know how to get where they need to go to, and I fully expect that they will,” said McNeil.

Bayview Bridge Detour Routes

These are the official detour routes that will be laid out for traffic that would normally take the Bayview Bridge. Use or avoid at your own discretion.

o Northbound cars and trucks will be detoured through the city of Sturgeon Bay along Green Bay Road to Madison Avenue to Michigan Street to WIS 42/57.

o Southbound cars will be detoured through the city of Sturgeon Bay along Egg Harbor Road to Jefferson Street to Third Avenue to Michigan Street to Madison Avenue to Green Bay Road to WIS 42/57.

o Southbound trucks will be detoured through the city of Sturgeon Bay along Michigan Street to Madison Avenue to Green Bay Road to WIS 42/57.