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Today's Take: Closure of sagging Green Bay bridge takes on life and personality of its own

Oct. 21, 2013
 
GPG Frigo Bridge Damage
The sagging span of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge has become a bit of a celebrity, even making a front page appearance in a Wall Street Journal story Oct. 14 about America's decaying infrastructure. / File/Gannett Wisconsin Media
Doug Schneider

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life messes up your bridge, make jokes.

Folks in Northeastern Wisconsin have been making hay with the closure of the Leo Frigo Bridge, which has been closed to traffic since developing an unsightly sag in late September. The span has become a bit of a celebrity, even making a front page appearance in a Wall Street Journal story Oct. 14 about America’s decaying infrastructure.

Locally, there are bridge-related jokes, bridge-related business specials, even a fake microblog inspired by the bridge.

Some examples:

• The first press conference had yet to begin on Day 1 of the closure when a pair of local officials began brainstorming about who might benefit if the bridge had to remain closed for an extended period.

Several ideas were offered. The most creative? “Squeegee men,” who could stake out intersections along the detour route through downtown. For those who’ve never been accosted at a Times Square intersection, the New York Daily News defines the intrepid entrepreneurs as “aggressive panhandlers who wash your car windows whether you want them to or not.” Then they demand tips.

So far, none has appeared in Titletown. We think — we hope — the speaker was kidding.

• Evening visitors to downtown Green Bay this past week could have availed themselves of burgers, brats, French fries and onion rings — with beverage purchase — at the low, low price of $1.25. That was courtesy of the “Bridge Out Special” at Coaches Corner, which has thousands of additional motorists passing it each day because of the bridge detour.

• Better yet, the span has reached a milestone of legitimacy in the 2013 world: A parody Twitter account.

The account, @LeoFrigoBridge, has amassed more than 100 followers since appearing on Sept. 29, and has proven adept at engaging local tweeters in conversations of 140 characters or fewer.

“I'M CLOSED! :( I'm bored on a Friday night. UGH!,” the anonymous person behind the account tweeted recently. “I miss all the traffic. At least I can still see downtown!”

The account-holder declined an interview last week, tweeting, “For now, I have to hold off on any ‘exclusive interviews’. My aims, goals and hopes are out for all to see. #SaveLeo.” But the span seems to be doing a good job of making connections on its own. As of Sunday, the “bridge” appeared to have struck up an online friendship with a parody account representing the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Could an appearance with Leno or Conan be far behind?

Read more Today’s Take columns.

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