When members of the logging community, including those from the Minnesota Timber Producers Association, The Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota, and the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA), heard from local media the Bong Bridge in Superior, Wisconsin would be reduced to one-way traffic, a scramble began to see what alternative routes could be utilized. The Bong Bridge, which is part of a main US Highway 2 truck route between Minnesota and Wisconsin, will be open only to one way traffic for the entire summers of 2014 and 2015.
After researching several options, it came to light that no good alternative truck route was accessible for log trucks during the two-year project.
"Closing the bridge at a critical time when no other routes are available because of spring breakup will have a devastating effect, not only on my business, but the entire industry," said Max Ericsonowner of Ericson Logging in Minong Wisconsin.
During the long hard 2013/2014 winter, timber production has been slowed for several reasons leaving pulp and sawmills such as Sappi, Newpage and Potlatch in short supply of raw material. Ray Higgins, Director of Operations for the Minnesota Timber Producers, stated "restricting trucks to less than normal payloads will have an extreme negative impact on an already struggling industry."
Scott Dane, Executive Director for Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota, echoed those comments adding, "Trucking has been a tough business for the past several years and our members are barely hanging on now".
After several talks with leaders from Minn. DOT, Wis. DOT and congressional representatives from Minnesota and Wisconsin, Wis.DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb and his team took another look at the project, which resulted in delaying the start of construction until May 5, 2014. The project was originally slated to begin on Monday, March 31, 2014.
"Delaying the project until May will give us the time we need, until road bans are lifted, giving us more options to deal with re-routing the trucks." said Max Ericson, GLTPA Board Member.
GLTPA President Mark Huempfner added, "We are truly grateful to have the support of the Walker administration and a proactive working relationship with DOT Secretary Gottlieb and his team in developing a positive solution."
Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association is a non-profit organization representing members in Michigan and Wisconsin, for over 70 years. GLTPA is the Progressive Voice of the Forest Products Industry and is committed to lead the Forest Products Industry in sustainable forest management through advocacy, professionalism, service to members, education and training. Headquartered inRhinelander, Wisconsin. Phone (715) 282-5828, PO Box 1278, Rhinelander, WI 54501www.timberpa.com