Lake Butte des Morts Causeway Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
June 11, 2013
After the success of the WIS 21 ribbon cutting celebration, the Wisconsin DOT contacted West Side Association to participate in the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the opening of the new Lake Butte des Morts causeway. We gladly accepted the invitation and got busy planning and organizing the event.
Plenty of planning went into the celebration, which included pre-ceremony entertainment by the Lourdes Academy Marching Band, the Pledge of Alliegience led by area Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, refreshments and cake graciously donated by Two Brothers Restaurant and Festival Foods, and music by Dorsey Entertainment.
The festivities were held in a huge tent, which was erected on the causeway so people got a close-up view of the project. Speakers included:
• WIS DOT NE Region Director, Will Dorsey
• WI Secretary of Transportation, Mark Gottlieb
• Oshkosh Chamber President, John Casper
Attendees each received a "goodie bag" with items donated by West Side Association member businesses. Approximately 200 people attended in spite of the hot and humid weather that day.
About the Project
The new causeway over Lake Butte des Morts on US 41 opened fully to traffic in July 2013, and is undoubtedly a relief and a pleasure for motorists who drive it. With two additional lanes in each direction capable of handling a much larger volume of traffic, the improvements over the lake are impressive.
Prior to the mid-1950s when the original causeway was built, motorists had to cross the Fox River in downtown Oshkosh. The construction of a causeway with a series of three bridges was a great improvement, said Tom Buchholz, WisDOT Project Manager, though one of the bridges was a draw bridge. "They said traffic would back up for miles if a boat went through after a Packer game," he said.
The Causeway reconstruction project was undertaken to address capacity and safety needs on US 41, Buchholz said, adding that WisDOT looked at several options, including the construction of a singe bridge to the west of the existing causeway. With a price tag of around $100 million for a bridge compared to approximately $34 million for an improved causeway, WisDOT opted for the latter. "We came up with the idea of putting a trail along side of US 41, and that idea was very well received," Buchholz said. It's a win-win situation for everyone."
The result is a new, eight-lane Lake Butte des Morts crossing, created by widening the existing causeway to the west. Buchholz said three through lanes and an auxiliary lane in each direction will improve the traffic flow between the WIS 21 and US 45 interchanges. Freeway lighting will span the entire causeway.
Buchholz said the new causeway is built for traffic volumes projected 20 years into the future. "The general feedback we've received so far has been very positive," Buchholz said. "I think once it's fully open, people are going to love it."