College Ave bridge reconstruction

Kim Dunlap

The city of Appleton’s Department of Public Works is in the early stages of developing the reconstruction of the College Avenue bridge, which will possibly expand the bridge into four lanes. The actual construction of this project will begin, at the earliest, in 2008. Currently, the Department of Public Works is primarily concerned with generating community feedback concerning this project.

Last week, the Department began conducting an email survey, which asks residents whether they feel that, when the bridge is reconstructed, it should be expanded into four lanes or kept at two lanes.

The survey goes on to ask community members for their input so that a “community-sensitive” design may be developed.

Paula Vandehey, Appleton’s Director of Public Works, commented that the department has already received approximately 20 survey responses from residents.

The public thus far has been predominately in favor of expanding the bridge, with the exception of the residents of the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the College Avenue bridge, who would like the bridge to remain as two lanes.

Vandehey commented that there is a significant need for reconstructing the bridge, since current traffic counts suggest that the bridge is very near to its capacity at this point in time.

Reconstructing the bridge would provide a longterm solution to the increased traffic created by the expansion and development of the downtown area. The new bridge would have a lifespan of 75 years and would provide service well into the future.

In Vandehey’s opinion, the bridge would not impact the Lawrence community. She asserted that the redevelopment of downtown Appleton (e.g. the Performing Arts Center and the incoming Copper Leaf Hotel), however, is really responsible for generating an increase in traffic around Lawrence.

She commented that the Department of Public Works is working with Lawrence to assess how best to provide for pedestrian crossing across the Lawrence campus in order to alleviate the problems presented by the increase in traffic volume.