July 1999: New Highway HH bridge is open
Portage County finally has second route across Wisconsin River
Reprinted from the July 16, 1999, edition.
The new bridge on Highway HH is open.
The bridge officially opened Thursday. Charles Kell, Portage County Planning and Zoning Deaprtment director, said that was the scheduled projection completion date, although the bridge had unofficially been open sooner as motorists drove around barricades.
The dedication ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 21, at the bridge with County Board Chairman Clarence Hintz giving the welcoming address and Kell making comment and acknowledgements. Invited to participate in the dedication are Governor Tommy Thompson; State Senator Kevin Shibilski; Charles
Thompson, secretary of the State Department of Transportation; and Richard Bonneville, director of the District 4 DOT office. A reception will follow at the Wisconsin River Country Club from noon to 1:30 p.m. The project cost an additional $12,985,000 and covers $3.5 miles, 1.8 miles of that on a new alignment.
The main bridge across the Wisconsin River is 782 feet long and the secondary bridge is 150 feet long. A total of 40.5 acres was purchased for right of way, including five residences, one business and the Whiting Municipal Center.
The dedication culminates a lengthy effort to provide a second bridge across the river in Portage County. The need was first identified in a 1963-65 Stevens Point Comprehensive Plan and confirmed in a 1977 transportation study by the county planning department.
A 1981 Wisconsin River Crossing Corridor Study recommended the general location of the bridge and in 1991 the county board requested state funding of the project. After funding was approved by the state legislature in 1996, the project was let for bid in 1998.
The new bridge is expected to reduce traffic volumes on the Clark Street bridge and relieve congestion on streets leading to that bridge. The rest of the HH project, including a new bridge and widened roadway at McDill Dam is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 15.