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The Bridges of Milwaukee County
What it costs to keep the city’s Downtown riverways navigable.

How much for a lift? The bridge on St. Paul Avenue in the Third Ward.
Photo by Ben Halpin.

When rehabilitation begins on the Pleasant Street bridge this fall, it will be the 10th of the city’s 21 movable bridges to undergo major work since 2000. Repairs of these crossings of the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers don’t come cheap. The price tag is $8.2 million to rebuild the aging Pleasant Street bridge spanning the Milwaukee River, and a total of $25 million for the busy Wisconsin and Juneau avenue bridges. That latter amount was offset by $21.5 million in federal dough, a big score for the city, but municipal officials still have to cough up a pretty penny each year for routine maintenance and staff.

The Department of Public Works employs some 20 folks to sit in the little control towers perched above the bridges and activate them when ships come through. (Some open by automatic controls.) Those stationed closest to the port get the big ships, like barges transporting coal destined for We Energies power plants, but those further upstream contend largely with your everyday pleasure boats, recreational yachts and the like.

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Jay_Warner Posted: 10/17/2012 8:58:37 AM
 1   0    

Land transportation (roads) and water transportation (canals) have crossed for at least two centuries in the US; the settled rule is that the bridges accommodate whatever river/canal traffic they can - opening on a schedule or on demand. I'm sure the boat owners pay various fees to operate on the river - dockage fees, etc. - and that those fees do not cover the cost of the bridges. We and the boat owners receive other benefits as well. What is the benefit to the community - all of us - from these boats? What is the benefit to all of us from the bridges?
Noodle Posted: 8/25/2012 5:44:37 PM
 2   0    

aI this taking into account the power it costs to open & close the bridges or parts needed for maintenance and I'm sure other costs that are involved? And why not say whether the people who use these water ways & need the bridges to be lifted are paying some kind of fee or tax, or if the taxpayers are footing the entire bill. Frankly I'm less concerned how much 20 employees cost to run these things (actual salaries probably amount to a whopping $35k) as much as paying for some millionaire yacht owner's pleasure cruise, much less a multi-billion dollar company like WE getting off scott free.
Jay_Warner Posted: 10/17/2012 8:59:57 AM
 0   0    

Replying to: Noodle
Clearly a man after Mitt Romney's heart - As Governor, Romney raised & created fees on a whole host of items. They weren't taxes, but they _were_ $50 to $200 private additional expenses for each one. And they went a good way toward balancing his State budgets.
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