Sabula man offers free boat rides across the Mississippi

Published: Mar. 1, 2018 at 10:55 PM CST
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A sudden bridge closure between Savanna, Ill. and Sabula, Iowa added about 40 minutes to some people’s work commutes. But Fred Bresette is offering to cut that time in half.

“It takes about 20 minutes,” the 87-year-old said.

He taxis people from the dock in his Sabula backyard, over the Marina in Savanna.

“Sometimes it’s hard to try to explain why you do things like this,” he said.

But he did his best to put it all into words.

“I love Sabula, I love the people…and I’m just trying to help them,” he said. “They got a job that they have to get to and it would cost them a lot of money to go 40 miles in the morning and 40 back.”

The bridge just outside of Sabula collapsed. The detour to get across the river takes drivers south towards Clinton, across the Mississippi to Fulton and then back north into Savanna.

“[It’s] not only the time it takes but the money that they spend,” Bresette explained.

This is not the first time he has run the free service.

“The last time I think I gained at least five pounds,” he said. “The girls would bring me cookies and cake; all kinds of good stuff.”

Bresette says he helped people commute back in 2008 when the bridge was closed for construction.

“I leave Sabula on the hour and leave from Savanna on the half hour,” Bresette said. “And it works out perfect.”

Thursday, March 1, was his second day back running the service. Although it has been a slow start, Bresette expects it to pick up.

“Next week I guarantee there will be a lot of people going,” he said.

It is an act of kindness the retiree enjoys.

“There’s people here on the boat and we can talk,” he said.

And one he has no plans of quitting.

“As long as I’m alive, I’ll do it.”

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, the bridge will be closed until the end of May 2018.

Bresette encourages anyone who would like a ride across the river to reach out to him. He says just ask around town, and someone can point you in his direction.