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From: "Jim Dent" james DOT dent AT itochu DOT com
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 04:56:24 -0400
Subject: Oshkosh, WI
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=46rom the Oshkosh Northwestern...

Old bridge lingers as historic significance debated

By Karl Ebert
of the Northwestern
Wrangling over the historic value of an abandoned railroad bridge spannin=
the Fox River has pushed the bridges removal beyond a Sept. 30 deadline s=
by the U. S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard ordered the bridge removed when Wisconsin Central
Transportation Corp., abandoned its downtown Oshkosh rail line in 1996.
Earlier this year, the Coast Guard freed up nearly $575,000 to remove the
bridge, but city officials asked for an extension of the demolition deadl=
after receiving conflicting information about whether a federal historic
mitigation law applied to the demolition project.
The bridge, completed in 1904, is one of the state=92s few surviving exam=
of turn of the century swing bridge construction.
The city hired a consultant to document the bridge=92s history in anticip=
of a federal requirement that a mitigation plan be developed when histori=
buildings are demolished.
But the U. S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation ruled that the
federal law did not apply because the project, while paid for with federa=
dollars, is not being managed by the Coast Guard or any other federal
What the mitigation plan would have involved was never specified.
"I found it sort of hard to believe that this was not a federal project,"
said Richard Dexter, chief of the State Historical Society=92s office of
preservation and planning.
A July letter from Dexter saying the bridge would be eligible for listing=
the National Register of Historic Places but did not require a mitigation
plan to be removed, opened the door for the city to request bids for the
Four bids, opened Friday, range from a low bid of $184,500, to a high bid=
$794,975. Those prices are based on a March 1 completion date. An optiona=
Dec. 15 date would add $20,000 to the low bid.
The city council is expected to award the work at its Oct. 9 meeting.
Meanwhile, the city has received Coast Guard and Department of Natural
Resources approval of a plan to leave the bridge=92s 200-foot southern sp=
an in
place as a public fishing pier. The Otter Street Fishing Club has agreed =
chip in on the cost of renovating the bridge span to make it more suitabl=
for fishing.
Planned improvements include a new bridge deck, handicapped access and
decorative lighting.
Otter Street Fishing Club president Bob McAloon said it will remain uncle=
how much of the cost the club will be able to cover until better cost
estimates are developed.
The club, he said, sees helping out as a way of improving fishing
opportunities for the handicapped, elderly and anglers who don=92t own bo=
"It=92s something we want to do," McAloon said. "It=92s a good fishing ar=
there are some deep holes right at that bridge that are very productive."
Parks director Tom Stephany, who will seek grant money to pay for the
lighting, said work will likely begin in summer.


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