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Study: Ten percent of northern Wisconsin bridges 'structurally deficient'Submitted: 02/16/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Study: Ten percent of northern Wisconsin bridges 'structurally deficient'
MERRILL - One out of every ten bridges in northern Wisconsin is labeled with a troubling name.

They're called "structurally deficient."

The ten percent rate is the highest for any region in the state, according to a new study by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.


The northbound Highway 51 bridge over Highway 64 is one of those bridges. About 7,800 cars pass over the bridge every day, although it's rated poor or worse on a nine-point scale.

Bridges like that one concern a state road-building advocacy group. The Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin says the results of the national bridge study are not surprising, but they're troubling.

"It's just one more data point of the condition of our roads and our bridges that's pointing out, again, that we can't put this problem off any longer. The longer we do, the more expensive it's going to be," said Craig Thompson, the Executive Director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin. "Eventually, we're going to be putting safety at risk."
Plans have been in the works for years to make major improvements on the bridge in Merrill, which was built in 1975.

It will undergo repairs to the abutment, improving its structure. The highway surface on ground level will also be redone, and crews will put in a roundabout. Work could start as soon as 2019.

"Overall, the DOT has been doing a good job of overseeing the projects and contracting with the private sector to get them done," Thompson said. "But they really are suffering from a lack of funding."

According to the study, Wisconsin ranks 17th in the country in number of structurally deficient bridges. Iowa is number one.

To see the full study, and look at troubled bridges across the state, click the link below.

Related Weblinks:
ARTBA Deficient Bridge Report

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 12/12/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting today about possible changes to a major Rhinelander intersection. We'll preview the meeting and bring you coverage tonight on Newswatch 12 at 10.

We talk to a fisherman and a DNR conservation warden about how safe or unsafe the Northwoods lakes are for ice fishermen.

And a historic Wabeno bed and breakfast is in a building that used to be the mansion of a lumber baron. We'll show you the place where the owners are offering tours for a good cause.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ELCHO - An Elcho couple's Christmas tradition now serves as a tradition for many others in the Northwoods.

Carl and Lissa Bloechl spent only a week setting up thanks to the stretch of warm weather early in the season.

It's common for the couple to drop everything to take an emergency EMT call which adds time to decorating.
 
They say they can't stop the display though!

"We get people from Rhinelander or Antigo or people that we know, even from outlying areas! They'll say 'Do you have the lights up yet, we want to see them!" Then we have to scramble and beat the weather," says Carl Bloechl.

The couple spends about $300 adding new items to their display every year, such as the new nativity scene Carl built.

This is the fifth year the couple has decorated their apartment complex.


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ANTIGO - Getting your family a new dog or cat for Christmas can be more troublesome than thoughtful.

Shelter animals tend to be extra sensitive when they come to a new home.

With visitors coming and going, the holiday season often creates an even more stressful environment.  

Those Christmas decorations can also frighten a new pet.

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RHINELANDER - A new state law could help northern Wisconsin open a mine in the next three to five years, if Sen. Tom Tiffany's predictions are correct.

Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) wrote the bill repealing a Wisconsin law often called the "mining moratorium," and Gov. Scott Walker signed it in Rhinelander on Monday.

Walker said the new law, branded the Mining for America Act, "might as well be called the 'Keep Our Kids in Wisconsin' bill."

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MERRILL -
A Tomahawk man charged with 12 felonies from a string of burglaries will spend the better part of the next decade in prison.

Jon Schenk, 45, was sentenced to seven years in prison in Lincoln County Court Monday morning. Schenk chose not to say much during his hearing, but judge Robert Russell had plenty to tell him.

"Here we are again," Russell said to Schenk.

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RHINELANDER - An orthodontic office in Rhinelander wants you to add one more person to your holiday card mailing list.

Dr. Joshua Bruce of Schmidt and Bruce Orthodontics is organizing this year's "Hope and Healing" thank-you card program for wounded veterans.

Dr. Darrell Schmidt first collected the cards for injured service members around Christmas last year.

Bruce says helping veterans is something he cares deeply about.

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RHINELANDER - Monday night the Rhinelander City Council made a big decision it hopes will bring more success to the Northwood Golf Course.

The Council voted seven to one to end its restaurant lease with Dave O'Melia, and to let golf pro Dan Buckley go. The council will begin looking for an outside management company to handle the course.

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