Make railroad bridge a welcome sign

THE BRIDGE THAT CARRIES the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad over the west end of East Mill Street has long been a part of the downtown landscape.

Whether you’re coming into downtown from the west or heading west out of downtown, it can serve as either an entrance or exit gate for visitors to the heart of the city.

For many years, when the rail line it carries sat vacant, it became quite shabby, rusty and in need of refurbishing. It was bad enough that many people would duck their heads and look down when they passed under it.

A little over two decades ago, the city finally stepped up and had the bridge repainted. A few years later, thanks to the Sheboygan County Master Gardeners, bright new plantings filled in the area under either side of the bridge. And a few years ago, when State 67 – including the block of East Mill Street under the bridge – was repaved, bright metal railings along the sidewalks under the bridge added another nice touch.

Now, the bridge is one of many attractive charms in downtown Plymouth that helps draw visitors and tourists.

But there is still the potential for more in that old railroad bridge, potential that the members of the Redevelopment Authority would like to bring out.

Since it does serve as something of an entrance/exit gate for downtown, the RDA would like to make it even more welcoming to visitors.

Specifically, they would like to use the sides of the bridge as a message board, with a message of greeting for visitors.

Although it is starting to show some signs of wear and tear, the city does not plan to repaint the bridge for at least several years and will have to set aside more than $30,000 for any such project – money it does not presently have earmarked for that purpose.

In the meantime, however, the RDA is exploring if a message could be added to the bridge, in the form of a sign, a banner or some other means. It would likely include the “Cheese Capital of the World” logo the RDA adopted several years ago and has become somewhat ubiquitous throughout the city.

A banner or sign would be the best approach, as it could be installed immediately, then taken down when the bridge is eventually repainted and then put back up when the painting is complete.

Such a welcoming gateway would hearken back to the city’s 19th Century roots, when welcoming and celebratory arches were often erected on Mill Street for special events and activities.

The RDA should throw its efforts fully behind such a plan – the same efforts it made in bringing to fruition the soon-to-open Plymouth Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center on Mill Street.

If they can succeed at this challenge, it will add even more charm and attraction to the heart of our city.

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