KAUKAUNA - Re-establishing water travel along the Fox River from Green Bay to Lake Winnebago has been an ongoing process.
For the past nine years, work had progressed on some of the 17 locks along the river. Now, it's time for Kaukauna's locks to get a facelift.
This trench is as long as a football field and when flooded will hold 15 feet of water.
The Kaukauna lock system is getting some attention.
“It's a big maintenance project. They have not been really worked on since the 1980s, so they've been sitting for a long time,” said Harlan Kiesow, Fox River Navigational System Authority CEO.
Kiesow says work along the $16 million project is on time and on budget. Deconstruction began Tuesday for three of Kaukauna's five locks. From the giant wooden gates to the 1930s lock tender's shack, crews are dismantling everything. Parts will be repaired, replaced, or retooled to make them look and function like they did when the locks were up and running.
“It's fascinating to see the craftsmanship, the workmanship, that our forefathers had more than 100 years ago. And the care that they took to, achieve such a fine level of craftsmanship,” said Reed Rodenkirch, Boldt Construction project manager.
The restoration project began seven years ago.
“It's going to open the area up for boat traffic. We have canoe and kayak launches, that are being constructed,” said Kiesow.
Leaders say benefits can be seen up river.
“In Appleton, we've had a lot of redevelopment. We've had trail development. In Little Chute there's been trail development and there's some additional work along the shorelines,” said Kiesow.
Work on Kaukauna's lock number 4 was recently completed. It's a look to the future while honoring the past.
“It's like working in an outdoor museum, we're preserving the local history of this area for future generations,” said Rodenkirch.
The locks are scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2015.
But downstream near Wrightstown, a boat lift project is still about five years from being finished.
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