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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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