Not every creature is stirring, but there's lots going on this summer along our local Appleton waterway, the Fox River. I've put up a couple posts over the years about the river and its relationship to Appleton's history, and about the dilapidated series of locks and dams which are being rehabilitated so that boat traffic might resume after a 20+ year hiatus. One of the newly-resurrected locks (Appleton lock #4) is right across the river from my back yard, and although boat traffic has not yet been allowed to restart, we expect to see new life on the river sometime yet before the season is over. Additional work on the locks continues this summer, moving downstream from the downtown region, which was the focus of summer, '07.
There are a couple other projects underway along our river. The first (a direct offshoot of the rehab of the locks) involves the land adjacent to Appleton lock #4. An abandoned factory sits on a several-acre condemned site here, and after many attempts and false starts a developer has purchased the land and is planning an ambitious development of retail and residential spaces on the site. We actually looked into the condos there, examining the promise of the same (or better) water location we currently enjoy but with a fraction of the upkeep required of our 138-year-old house. We decided to stay put, but the amenities being promised to the new residents are, after all, only a stone's throw from our place. So we're rather excited about that. At the very least we'll have a front row view of the construction.
The other involves a major new bridge, a big construction project that runs right over the top of the condo / retail site. The main thoroughfare thru Appleton is College Avenue, which crosses the Fox River via a bridge built in (I believe) 1952. College Ave. is four-lane on both sides of the two-lane bridge, making for a continuous bottleneck on Appleton's busiest city street. That fact, plus a discovery of a structural malady in an identically-constructed span somewhere in Wisconsin caused the powers that be to replace the bridge now. After a couple brief budget-related delays, the closure of the old bridge is now slated for mid-August.
So I decided I should get some pictures of the landscape as it currently is, since things will soon enough change and I'll quickly forget how things were for my first ten years here. I remember the big construction projects in downtown Minneapolis when the Target Arena was put in. This coincided with the continuation of interstate 394 into the heart of the city, plus the construction of three huge parking ramps; so an awful lot of real estate--streets and factories and warehouses and bridges--got demolished and moved and rerouted in this process. I was driving a bus thru the downtown six or eight times a day during this period, and these changes came to seem a bit surreal. I used to walk every day thru the heart of this region, as I parked my car at the bus garage and then walked downtown to take over my route. And I spent a lot of time watching the vast construction sites--I even took to showing up early to have more time to watch. These streets and buildings were like bedrock, like mountains and lakes and rivers; they were the things that remained the same year after year as more superficial things changed around them. And now here THOSE things were changing and it was like having ones feet pulled out from under one somehow.
Well, Appleton's not a very big place, and this part of it doesn't amount to so much, but it's still a pretty big change for us, especially when we live so close to both projects.
So--answering the question nobody asked--here are some photos of how things are now. (The photos of the construction site were all taken from the bridge--another reason to get some pictures now before I'm denied access.)
(Facing West and Northwest. This photo and the one above were taken at the same spot, with me standing under the bridge and just pivoting a bit. The factory site is just visible in the right border of the picture above.)
(Back facing East; the staircase from the bridge down.)
(The construction site seen from the bridge. The bulk of the building here will be torn down, and the new complex will be on the land behind it. To the right just out of the frame is a defunct hydro-electric generating plant which is being refurbished and will generate all power used in the new complex. Cool.)
(All these pics were taken with the new iPhone, which struggles a bit with some colors. A preponderance of a single color--blue sky, say--seems to pull the rest of the picture in that direction.)