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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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RHINELANDER - Stepping onto a boat and casting a line doesn't come easy for some people.

The Northwoods "Let's Go Fishing" pontoon helps veterans, seniors, the disabled get on the lake for a day of fun.

The Northwoods chapter needs volunteer captains and mates to keep the rides running.

The first training session is tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at the Pavilion at Hodag Park in Rhinelander.

Chapter President Mark Schroeder says the program is like lake therapy.

"Hey for one thing we are out on the water. It's something that is good for all us; it is good for everyone really," said Schroeder.

Anyone can volunteer to be a captain or a mate.

The training takes about two hours.

"When you're out in the water, there's something that happens. It is the look that people have, it's the smile have. It truly changes your attitude towards life," said Pastor Rod Ankrom of Calvary Baptist Church.

Pontoon rides run through mid-September.

If you want to schedule a ride or volunteer, call 715-219-5436.



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