Webster Avenue Bridge re-opens, business owners rejoice

FILE
FILE

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Reconstruction of Green Bay’s 64-year-old Webster Avenue Bridge has been going on since July—and business owners in the neighborhood threw a party to re-open the bridge Saturday.

Before construction began in July, the Webster Avenue Bridge was carrying 15,000 vehicles a day. It was given a rating of 50 out of 100 by the Brown County Highway Department and was in constant need of repairs.

“It had lots of holes in it. It was getting pretty bad. It was getting harder for them to repair it,” said Brian Schroeder, owner of Schroeder’s Flowers.

Area store owners agreed the bridge needed to be replaced, but many didn’t anticipate just how much it would cost them in business. Some say they spent much of the summer not seeing new faces, and people complained about the detours making their stores hard to find.

“It’s been roughly about 20 percent of our business that has been affected by the bridge being closed all summer,” said Lynn Stahl, owner of The Lorelei.

But Stahl worried that the worst effects were felt by emergency responders and the people they serve. “It was taking the emergency vehicles an average of three to five minutes longer to get to hospitals with the bridge being down,” she said.

“This is just going to make it quicker, response times faster for our fire department and for the other agencies going to the hospital,” said Captain Bryan Becker of the Green Bay Metro Fire Department.

County Officials say the only thing left on the bridge’s reconstruction is the paint—which will need to be done next year because of weather. The project brings the county roads and bridges up to fair-to-good condition by the year 2020—good news for those celebrating the bridge opening on Saturday.

“Happy to be doing this with the community and celebrating the fact that it’s back open,” said Stahl.