Ad Hoc Ferry System Keeps Businesses Afloat

After MNDOT closed the Highway 43 bridge connecting Winona, MN to western Wisconsin, locals worried about the economic fallout from an extended closure. Within a week, a ferry and bus system was put in place.

"With a sweeping river view that included both the closed Hwy. 43 bridge and a dilapidated steamboat replica perched on a levee, several hundred Wisconsin residents made their way across the Mississippi River via a pair of excursion boats that were brought to Winona to help keep the city -- and its economy -- moving.

The boats are part of an elaborate transit plan designed to help the estimated 2,500 Wisconsin residents who work in Winona get to their jobs in the wake of last week's abrupt closure of the Hwy. 43 bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation shut the 1941 bridge to all traffic after finding corrosion on some of the gusset plates. Flaws in such plates are suspected in the deadly collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge last summer in Minneapolis.

With the nearest crossings 35 miles from Winona and gas nearly $4 a gallon, the closure has hit commuters from Wisconsin hard, so four park-and-ride lots have been established up and down the river in towns where mass transit is something you see on TV."

Thanks to Barry

Full Story: Winona's ferries help to keep local economy afloat

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