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Controversy over dedicated bridge in Oconto County continues

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SPC Nichole M. Frye Memorial Bridge as seen on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Photo from: FOX 11).
SPC Nichole M. Frye Memorial Bridge as seen on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Photo from: FOX 11).

LENA, WI (WTAQ) - A debate is raging in Oconto County over a bridge honoring a local veteran killed in the line of duty. 

Ten years ago, Army Specialist Nichole Frye was killed in Iraq. Two years later, a bridge just north of Lena on Highway 141 was dedicated in her honor.

Frye's name isn't on the bridge itself and an effort to change that is underway. However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has already said no.

“They named the bridge, but there’s nothing on the bridge to know about her sacrifice,” Lisa Frye, Nichole Frye’s mother, told FOX 11.

“Everybody goes past, they see a silver sign, and they don’t know what it’s for. They’re not really looking at it. You can’t read it from that far away and at that speed,” said Jayme Frye, Nichole Frye’s father.

The push to get Nichole Frye's name on the sign has been spurred on by the Rolling Thunder motorcycle club. Each year the group holds an honor ride and members feel the sign north of the bridge shouldn't be the only marker.

Frye’s family agrees. But the DOT says federal guidelines classify the sign as non-essential.

“When you have a policy, you need to adhere to the policy the best you can,” WisDOT spokesperson Kim Rudat also told FOX 11 there are safety concerns as well.

Crivitz Republican State Rep. Jeff Mursau has introduced a bill to have the sign installed.

“It was supposed to be on the road, or on the bridge, and for people to notice, that’s where it should be,” said State Rep. Jeff Mursau, R-Crivitz.

The Rolling Thunder motorcycle club has offered to pay for the signs, which the DOT estimates could run as high as $3,000. 

State lawmakers hope to have a new sign up on the bridge by the fall.

(Additional reporting from FOX 11).

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