By Joe Morey
The County Hwy E Bridge between Whitefish and Reserve on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation is scheduled to be replaced in the summer of 2021, according to Tribal Realtor Nita Kemp.
Currently the bridge has a weight limit of 10 tons and is down to one lane with stop signs on each end to control traffic. Kemp said the state of Wisconsin wanted the bridge completely closed and to reroute traffic down Thoroughfare Road, but Sawyer County Highway Commissioner Gary Gedart pleaded with the state to keep it open knowing the burden it would be to the Tribe and neighboring communities if it was shut down completely.
“The County has secured a V-plow for a pick-up truck and salt/sand equipment to maintain the bridge during the winter months,” Kemp stated. She explained the PSE (plans, specifications, estimates) which were due November have been done. All right of ways are taken care. The next step is the bid letting in March 2021, she stated.
LCO Tribal Governing Board member Glenda Barber said the bridge is scary for LCO residents and said it should have been unacceptable to take this long for it to be replaced. Kemp said the Tribe and County have been trying to get the bridge replaced for a long time.
Kemp said the replacement should begin once the road bans are lifted in the spring. She noted the state of Wisconsin is paying for 80% of the total cost while local funds cover the remaining 20%. She said the local match will come from Bureau of Indian Affair Bridge Project funding and that none of the cost will come from the Tribe’s budget.
File photo from Feb. of 2020