$250K grant to improve harbor access road in Prairie du Chien

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By Correne Martin


Grants for nine harbor maintenance and improvement projects in Wisconsin were recently announced and the city of Prairie du Chien was among the recipients. The city, along with partners Prairie Sand & Gravel and Gavilon Grain, the main harbor user, is receiving $250,000 to improve the harbor access road on St. Feriole Island in 2021. 

According to the grant announcement from the Department of Transportation, the funds will assist in reconstructing and resurfacing the deteriorating roadway. The project will improve the weight capacity and safety of truck traffic utilizing the harbor. 

“The road gets a lot of use and, over the past five years, tonnages through the harbor have increased,” explained City Planner and grant writer Garth Frable. “We hope there will be opportunities to apply in future years to continue to improve the harbor facilities.”

Frable acknowledged that the city’s grant request was for $600,000. However, only $250,000 was awarded “so that [the state] could fund the largest number (of grants).”

The last time Prairie du Chien received a harbor assistance grant was in 1988 for $20,000, Frable noted. 

According to the DOT, improvements such as these boost statewide economic development by promoting waterborne freight, harbor infrastructure, and passenger cruise facilities.

“Wisconsin is fortunate to have a robust system of ports and harbors with our Great Lakes and the Mississippi River that border our state,” Gov. Tony Evers said in the announcement. “We are committed to investing in strengthening our shipbuilding industry to support one of the most efficient transportation resources for our farmers and manufacturers, bolster economic development, and support good, family-supporting jobs.”

Created in 1979, WisDOT’s Harbor Assistance Program helps harbor communities maintain and improve waterborne commerce. Applications are reviewed by the Harbor Advisory Council, which includes members from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, UW Sea Grant, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and alumni from the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute.

Applications are accepted from public or private harbor facilities for projects that benefit facilities used for cargo transfer, shipbuilding, commercial fishing, vessel cruises, or ferry service. All projects must be part of a current three-year harbor development plan. Selection criteria include economic impact, urgency and project type. 

The next round of Harbor Assistance Project grants are due Aug. 1, 2021.

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