Earlier this month, Crawford County Highway Department foreman Gary Mara was doing a monthly inspection of the County C and County U bridges. During the course of the inspection, Mara discovered a change in the measurements on the County C bridge where the southwest girder sets on the bridge abutment.
Crawford County Highway Commissioner Dennis Pelock immediately ordered an inspection on the structure due to these findings.
The bridge was inspected by Jewell Associates of Spring Green late Friday May 12 and again on Sunday May 14.
The findings were that the pilings have deteriorated rapidly over the past several months and movement in the bridge structure is notable. A decision was made to limit the bridge to one lane allowing traffic to pass on the north side (westbound lane) only and lower the maximum weight allowance from 25 tons to 10 tons.
Crawford County Highway Department sign crews restricted traffic on the County C bridge over Johnson Creek in the Village of Soldiers Grove due to the structural issues discovered during the inspecitons. The bridge will be restricted to a 10-ton weight restriction and one-lane-traffic with a 12-foot maximum width until the structure is replaced.
Design on this structure was completed this spring and the bridge was scheduled to be let for contract in November of 2017 with construction in the summer of 2018. The current critical condition of the bridge is due to the shifting of the structure. Commissioner Pelock has been working with the county’s bridge inspector Greg Jewell, along with John Bainter and Michael Erickson of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on the possibility for construction in 2017 because of this critical change in the structure.
Commissioner Pelock in a conversation with the Department of Transportation has received a confirmation that the project will be moved to an August 2017 state bid letting with construction this fall. Pelock believes construction will start on this “turnaround project” in September and the work could be completed by Thanksgiving.
“One of the biggest concerns is heavy truck traffic not obeying this weight restriction on the bridge,” Commissioner Pelock said. “The use of the bridge by overweight vehicles greatly jeopardizes the bridge and the safety of those using the bridge. Due to the concerns of safety to the general public, if overweight traffic is seen violating the restriction placed on the structure, the bridge will be closed to all traffic.”
During the construction of the new bridge this fall, traffic will be detoured on County B from Star Valley to Highway 131 to Soldiers Grove. The detour will make use of a new bridge currently under construction on County B east of Star Valley.
When the County C bridge over Johnson Creek is completed, it along with the recently completed County C bridge near the Sugar Creek Bible Camp and the County B ridge near Star Valley currently under construction will be three important pieces in opening a corridor for heavier traffic from Soldiers Grove to Ferryville.
The last remaining piece in completing that corridor is a bridge now under a 15-ton weight restriction just south of Star Valley between Latham and McManus Roads near the bathtub spring. That bridge is scheduled to be bid and rebuilt in 2019, according to Pelock.
The County C bridge over Johnson Creek is one of 15 bridges that are deficient or have structural issues on the county highway and local road system in Crawford County, according to the highway department.
The County U bridge over Plum Run Creek in the Town of Clayton also had a 10-ton weight restriction placed on the structure earlier this month. The County U bridge recently experienced a shifting in its north abutment causing concerns for the bridge’s integrity. For safety reasons, if this movement continues, the County U bridge will be closed to all traffic.
Current estimates for construction of the bridge and the approaches is $581,000.
The project is funded 80 percent from federal and state funds through the STP Local Bridge Program. Crawford County is responsible for the cost of the design of the project, new right-of-way costs and 20 percent of the construction costs.