PRICE COUNTY - Price County blames 43 years of road salt for a high-traffic bridge starting to fall apart.
Corrosion has eaten away at the Highway H bridge over the Elk Lake Chain in Phillips, and work started Tuesday to replace an aging bridge deck.
Price County Highway Commissioner Don Grande often got calls about the condition of the bridge.
"I would say right now it's weekly," he estimated. "'Hey, when are you going to fix that bridge? What's going on with that bridge? Why does the bridge look so bad?'"
Price County doesn't use much salt on its roadways, but cars have been pulling salt onto the bridge since 1975.
"The archenemy of concrete and steel is salt. It's very corrosive," Grande said.
Standards for bridge construction more than 40 years ago were different. The Highway H bridge was built with rebar that doesn't have a coating, making it susceptible to corrosion from salt. That corrosion leads to cracks in the concrete and chunks coming loose.
"When concrete comes out, it doesn't come out like a standard asphalt pothole. It comes out in large pieces," Grande said. "What happens is the first vehicle pops it loose, the second vehicle pops it up in the air, and the third vehicle hits it."
Contractors hope to finish the project by mid-August. Until then, drivers will be routed on South Airport Road, a detour of about a mile and a half.
In northern Price County, Park Falls can empathize with detours.
Last November, the Highway 182 bridge reopened after months of leaving the city split in half for months.
"[We had to] construct pretty much a brand new bridge from the water up. Well, from below the water up," said Mayor Dan Leitl.
Finishing touches like repaving, staining, building railings, and smoothing approaches will close down one lane of the bridge area for about a month this year. Those projects will start once the ground finally thaws.
"Yeah, the light is definitely at the end of the tunnel," Leitl said. "I think everybody's ready for it to just be done."
MADISON (AP) - \Wisconsin dairy farmers have broken their streak of year-over-year production increases.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Wisconsin farmers produced about 2.5 billion pounds of milk last month, down 0.6 percent from 2017.
Bob Cropp is a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He tells Wisconsin Public Radio that the slowdown in production is good for milk prices. Prices have been low for three straight years because of an abundance of milk on the market.
The USDA report says there were 5,000 fewer cows in the state compared to last year.
Darin Von Ruden is president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. He says farms that remained open faced cold and snowy conditions this spring.
Cropp says some experts believe milk prices may reach $17 per 100 pounds by November.
BEAVER DAM (AP) - Wisconsin Democratic voters are getting nervous over their large field of candidates running for governor.
The primary isn't until Aug. 14. No one has emerged as the clear front-runner ahead of next weekend's state convention. And no one is showing signs of dropping out.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is stockpiling resources and is in the middle of a $1.4 million TV ad campaign where he's run three ads unopposed touting his record.
Democrat Denise Hutchison, of Green Bay, says she hopes the field will narrow. She's optimistic that may happen after this weekend's state Democratic Party convention. But she also thinks whoever wins the primary will get the full support of Democratic voters.
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