OSHKOSH – From Riverside Park, Oshkosh Common Councilor Steve Herman can see evidence of Oshkosh’s central city revitalization in every direction.
There’s the Best Western Premier hotel and Oshkosh Convention Center to the west, the Leach Amphitheater to the east, the ongoing demolition of the former Jeld-Wen property to the south and, of course the river walk all around.
“Redevelopment is slowly occurring and everyone is so pleased with the development of the river walk,” Herman said. “But then they have to look at that.”
“That” would be the new Canadian National, or CN, lift bridge that replaced the 114-year-old swing bridge over the Fox River on Aug. 19. Herman is one of many who would like to see the CN bridge painted or lit or —something, anything really — to improve its appearance.
“It just looks terrible,” Herman said. “We’re re-energizing our central city and that’s what they get to look at. It takes away from the river walk, in my opinion.”
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student Tony Montalvo has a clear view of Lake Winnebago from his apartment in the 100 North Main building. Well, it’s clear until the new bascule span’s counterweight pushes the center span almost 125 feet into the air.
Still, Montalvo said the old bridge was worse.
“When it’s up, it obstructs the view, but it’s not bad. It’s better than the black hunk of crap that used to be there. And it’s not loud at all,” Montalvo said.
But would a coat of paint help?
“Paint would definitely make it look better,” Montalvo said.
Herman has translated his displeasure with the bridge’s appearance into a resolution the Council will consider when it meets at 6 p.m. tonight. In it, Herman strongly urges CN “to review the aesthetic qualities of the replacement bridge over the Fox River” and “to take such actions as may be appropriate to make the bridge more complementary in appearance with the surrounding properties and structures along the riverfront.”
But it seems unlikely local concerns about the bridge’s appearance will make much difference.
The company’s spokesman, Patrick Waldron, said the company has no plans to paint the bridge and that a substantial portion of the $27 million project has been completed.
“You have a $27 million in the transportation infrastructure of Oshkosh that we’re very proud of,” Waldron said. “It was a major construction project that we’re pleased to see completed.”
Not everyone is upset with the appearance.
Bayshore Marina owner Larry Akstulewicz has monitored progress on the bridge replacement since it began two years ago from his Bay Shore Drive marina. He said he likes the appearance, but would like it more if its operators could open it more often.
He was a bit surprised to learn CN had no intention of painting it, though.
“It’s a neat feat of engineering. It’s cool as heck,” Akstulewicz said. “I give a ton of kudos to the engineers and designers. It’s awesome. But I can’t see them spending that kind of money and not protecting it. At least they painted the old (bridge) a couple of times over the years it was there.”
via Appearance of new rail bridge draws complaints | Fond du Lac Reporter | fdlreporter.com.