Work on historic locks system nears completionWork on restoring the locks system that was once one of Wisconsin's most important trade routes is nearing completion.
By: Patty Murray, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Work on restoring the locks system that was once one of Wisconsin's most important trade routes is nearing completion.
The locks system dates back more than 150 years. Seventeen locks moved people and goods from Green Bay to the Fox Cities and eventually led them to the Mississippi River.
In the last decade, 12 locks have been restored. Now work on three more in Kaukauna has begun.
“It's like working in an outdoor museum,” says Reed Rodenkirch, the project manager for contractor Boldt Construction. He says he and his crews have new respect for nineteenth century workmanship:”Today we're using backhoes and heavy equipment — cranes, forklifts — whereas during the original construction all our ancestors had would be draft animals and human muscle.”
Work is done with feedback from the Wisconsin State Historical Society and Historical Architects.
The locks restoration is a long-term project. Harlan Kiesow is CEO of the Fox River Navigational System Authority. He says the three locks now under construction will cost a total of $3.3 million. But the entire project may come in under budget.
“When we looked at the pre-studies on this, twenty years ago already we were looking in the neighborhood of $18 million to do the work,” says Kiesow. “Actually we're probably going to be coming in … less than that.”
The work is largely funded by the federal government along with a mix of state, local, and private money.