The 400th Street Bridge is still out; other roads lead a longer way to Vino in the Valley. This has had an adverse effect on business, and is a potential safety hazard for locals. File photo by Paul J. Seeling
The 400th Street Bridge is still out; other roads lead a longer way to Vino in the Valley. This has had an adverse effect on business, and is a potential safety hazard for locals. File photo by Paul J. Seeling

EL PASO TOWNSHIP, WI – As we reported in the July 14 edition of the Sun-Argus, there was a big storm that blew through the area on Tuesday, July 5. As a result, there was a fair amount of damage in some parts of our region.

The southwest section of Pierce County in El Paso Township, the Village of Plum City, and rural Elmwood were hit particularly hard. The storm moved through the Rush River Valley, home of destination restaurant and vineyard Vino in the Valley, and took out the 400th Street Bridge in Salem Township that serves traffic to Vino in the Valley off of Highway 10.

As has been reported elsewhere there was a standing room only meeting of the Salem Town Board on Tuesday, December 13 as residents and Vino in the Valley owner Larry Brenner made their concerns known about the delay in replacing the 400th Street Bridge in Salem Township.

The group pleaded with the Board to speed up the construction of the bridge, which will not be rebuilt until August or September of 2017 at the earliest.

Vino in the Valley had a decline in gross revenue for the first time in its 10 years of operation, and area residents fear that, in a medical emergency, ambulances may not get to them in time. The Board stated that they were unable to do anything, as the State of Wisconsin has claimed the bridge.

Brenner and others suggested placing a culvert in as a temporary measure to restore traffic flow over the Rush. But the Board said that that would be money they could not afford and an expense they wouldn’t be able to recover it if they spent it. It has also been reported that the WISDOT isn’t able to move the schedule up for this replacement, and the DNR would have to sign off on any temporary solutions as well.

For now, it looks like there isn’t going to be a quick fix or a return to normal traffic flow for residents or Vino in the Valley in the spring or sooner. That is a shame for both, and hopefully a solution can be found. The last thing needed in Pierce County is to have someone suffer a medical emergency, or adverse economic impact, due to a small river crossing.

Perhaps someone can make contacts for flood damage funds, or some other engineering solutions that could help solve this situation expeditiously.