Boaters urged to use caution during Rock River Bridge’s construction

Boaters urged to use caution during Rock River Bridge’s construction

With one week away from fishing season, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is warning boaters to slow down during construction of the Rock River Bridge.

“We talk about it for interstate drivers traveling through the work zones, this is a work zone behind us the same applies for boaters that they take that extra time,” said Steven Theisen, WisDOT project communication manager.

Crews are working on replacing the Rock River Bridge near Edgerton. The three-year project is a part of the I 39/90 expansion project that extends 45 miles from the Illinois state line to Madison. The DOT warns boaters should take all the same precautions as drivers in a work zone.

“You’re working next to heavy equipment, they are moving materials off the shore into the waterway, moving that equipment is dangerous. They (construction crews) want to make sure that the traveling public, in this case the boating public is safe as well,” he said.

Boaters using this stretch of the river will encounter buoys placed in the river to safely navigate through the work zone. Periodically, the buoys will be relocated as construction progresses.

“It’s easy to gawk and look at the different construction work that’s going on and we want to make sure that they obey the boating laws and focus on the waterway,” Theisen said.

The river will stay open during construction, which is good news for business owners along the water.

“It’s the heart of our business, we have to get as many people on this waterway as possible,” said the owner of Rock River Marina, Dale Nastala.

Nastala owns shops on both sides of the bridges and  relies on being able to travel through the construction area.

“It’s really important for that for keeping the boat traffic here — that’s one of the main things that happen for revenue that we need,” he said.

Safety signs and brochures are at every boat launch along Lake Koshkonong and the Rock River . In addition, brochures can be found at some bait and tackle shops in the Edgerton area, and can also be viewed on the I-39/90 project website, www.i39-90.wi.gov, under 2016 activities on the home page. For Nastala he hopes the construction won’t scare away customers

“If they live here or have a cabin here, they will get off and get here but it’s the people, the new people that want to come and see anchor and stuff they can’t get off, we are a little afraid that they might go somewhere else,” he said.

No matter who you are, if you’re on the river this summer it’s all about patience.

“Just slow down if there is someone else coming from the opposite direction, just making sure that you are patient going through there,” Theisen said.

The interstate widening and Rock River Bridge replacement project is scheduled to be completed in early fall 2018. These combined projects cost $48.4 million.

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