- The Highest Bridge in Wisconsin is the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge. It is 203 ft (61.9 m), making it Wisconsin’s tallest bridge.
- The Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge began in 1979 and was completed in late 1980.
- It was opened for traffic in 1981 with over 40,000 vehicles using the bridge daily.
Across the United States, there are countless impressive bridges. Some are known for their expansive length, while others are known for their height or unique appearance. Residents of Wisconsin will likely not be surprised to discover that their state is home to a bridge known both for its height and views! The Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge, previously known as the Tower Drive Bridge, is the highest bridge in Wisconsin.
It is a remarkable engineering marvel located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This iconic bridge serves as a crucial transportation link for the region and offers a unique habitat for many amazing animals.
Join us as we dive into the history of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge and learn more about the rich wildlife calling the area home.
How High Is the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge?
This impressive bridge is a whopping 203 ft (61.9 m) high. It is the highest bridge in Wisconsin. And it has a 120 ft (36.6 m) clearance below for watercraft to pass under.
The tied-arch bridge is also 1.51 mi (2,430.1 m) long, so the journey across is not a short one. It gives commuters ample time to enjoy the stunning panoramic vistas!
History of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge
Before constructing the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge, the city recognized the need for an updated structure. Traffic congestion was building as early as the late 1970s. At the time, two bridges provided avenues across the Fox River. They were the Walnut Street Bridge and the Mason Street Bridge. However, they could not handle the increasing traffic volume.
So, the city began constructing the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge in 1979. It was completed in late 1980 and opened for traffic in 1981. Now, over 40,000 vehicles use the bridge daily.
When the bridge originally opened, it was named the Tower Drive Bridge. That name got updated in 2002 to honor Leo Frigo, a prominent Green Bay businessman and philanthropist. Frigo, who passed away in 2001, was most well-known for founding the largest food pantry in the nation.
Where Is the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge Located on a Map?
Located in the picturesque city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge connects the eastern and western parts of the city. It is the I-43 corridor over the Fox River.
Its strategic location near the mouth of the river provides a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. The bridge is an iconic landmark within the region.
Here is the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge on a map:
How Big is the Fox River?
The Fox River is the primary tributary for Green Bay and the largest Lake Michigan tributary. It spans a length of 200 mi (320 km) through the state of Wisconsin. Its impressive size crosses seven distinct watersheds throughout the greater basin. The Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge lies within the boundaries of the Lower Fox River Watershed.
Its name comes from the name given by French trappers and traders: Rivière aux Renards (or ‘River of the Foxes’). And this important body of water supported multiple Native American tribes over the years. Archaeological evidence suggests that human inhabitants lived in the region as far back as 7000 BC.
In modern times, it became a hub of fishing and fisheries until pollution built up too much. But the river is still home to many species within the water and along its banks.
What Fish Live in the Fox River?
The waters beneath the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge are teeming with fascinating animals. As one may suspect, the river is home to a diverse array of fish species. Unfortunately, fishing around the highest bridge in Wisconsin is limited due to increasingly polluted waters. So, if you want to catch one of these beauties, you will need to venture a little further away from Green Bay. Some fish to look for include:
Northern Pike (Esox lucius)
The Northern pike, a fierce predator, is a common inhabitant of the Fox River. With its elongated body and sharp teeth, this species adapted to hunt prey fish. It can grow to impressive sizes, reaching up to 22 inches or more.
Walleye (Sander vitreus)
The walleye is another well-known fish species living in the Fox River. Highly prized for its delicate flavor, it is a favorite catch among local anglers. Walleye prefer the deeper parts of the river with rocky or sandy bottoms during calm weather and shallow areas during turbulent weather or spawning season.
Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
The channel catfish is a prize catch for anglers all over the country, including those in Wisconsin. It has whisker-like barbels and a scaleless body. This omnivorous bottom-dweller is not picky about its diet and will feed on just about anything within reach.
Freshwater Drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)
The freshwater drum is a fascinating fish species that inhabit the Fox River. It makes distinctive grunting sounds during spawning, so you will often hear it before you see it. Adult freshwater drum fish typically reach 5–15 lb (2.3–6.8 kg).
These are only a handful of the over 40 fish species in the Fox River around Green Bay and the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge. Others include the Western blacknose dace, bluegill, rock bass, and brown trout.
What Mammals Live Near the Fox River?
Just as the river teems with life, its banks are also home to many mammal species. Some of the over 30 species include:
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
The muskrat, a semiaquatic rodent, builds its intricate burrows alongside the river. Muskrats are well adapted to both terrestrial and aquatic habitats.
North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)
River otters are equally comfortable on land and in water. They burrow near the water’s edge and include a tunnel entrance directly into the river.
American Mink (Neogale vison)
The fascinating American mink is another semi-aquatic animal that happily lives along the banks of the Fox River. This carnivore seeks out its prey on land and in the water.
What Amphibians and Reptiles Live Near the Fox River?
There are eight amphibian species living along the banks of the Fox River near Green Bay. They include the gray tree frog, the Northern leopard frog, and the Eastern red-backed salamander.
Additionally, eleven reptile species have gotten spotted in the area over the years. They include the distinctive painted turtle, common leopard gecko, Eastern milksnake, and pond slider.
What Birds Live Near the Fox River?
There are over 200 species of birds that either live near or frequently visit the banks of the Fox River near the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge. Some of the more impressive feathered friends include:
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
The Great Blue Heron is a majestic wading bird. It often stands motionless in river shallows, offering a spectacular sight. It has a distinctive long neck, dagger-like bill, and an impressive wingspan.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge area provides an ideal habitat for the Bald Eagle, a majestic bird of prey. It has keen eyesight and powerful talons and loves to seek out fish for its meals.
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
This owl species is native to North America and is a highly skilled hunter. While its preferred prey includes mice, rats, and rabbits, it will happily target other critters, including amphibians and reptiles.
In addition to these impressive birds, visitors to the bridge may also spot peregrine falcons, ring-billed gulls, American black ducks, mallards, and wild turkeys.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Donald Joski/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.