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Study: Ten percent of northern Wisconsin bridges 'structurally deficient'Submitted: 02/16/2017

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


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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Caged Crow Fabrication is owned by Josh Romaker. He moved to the Northwoods about three years ago. Around the same time a woman in Madison approached him to help refurbish an old camper. He decided to make it into a food truck instead.

"We took on the challenge and that first build was featured on US Today and some magazines and our phone just started ringing. We've got them in Denver, Salt Lake City, New Jersey," said Romaker.

That was just the beginning for Romaker's company, Caged Crow Fabrication in St. Germain. They now specialize in food trucks of all kinds.

"If a customer wants a food truck that looks like a barn or a steam train or a school bus conversion, we really stick to the unique food truck builds," said Romaker.

The 1982 bus that Caged Crow Fabrication is working on now will be complete in a little over a month. The team made up of just a few workers has one rule- they never build the same thing twice. And they take their time.

"We have a sign on the wall here that says 'quality over quantity'. I think our reputation right now is really based on the attention to detail and I think we want to keep that up," said Romaker.


If you're interested in checking out more work from Caged Crow Fabrication, follow the link below.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/24/2017

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We take you to Wausau and bring you a conversation with a neighbor of Nengmy Vang, the suspect of Wednesday's shooting in the Wausau area that took the life of an officer and 3 other people.

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The Wisconsin Republican addressed reporters minutes after GOP leaders abruptly shelved the legislation, averted likely defeat for the bill. But it still dealt a damaging setback to President Donald Trump, Ryan and an entire party that has long said it wants to annul Obama's statute.

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