DARLINGTON—Barricades along Louisa Street in Darlington mark a potentially dangerous situation where a retaining wall fell several weeks ago.
Plans are in the works to repair the wall, but a permanent fix won’t happen any time soon.
The city’s public works director, Bob Salmi, said he has been talking with representatives of the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) since 2008, warning them that this would happen.
“The community has been asking us [the DOT] to look into this issue for a while,” Jeff Gust, southwest region planning chief of the DOT, said. “We apologize that it took us so long but we are going to get going on that project soon.”
Gust said the DOT will secure the area to make sure it is safe. He said they may need to close off a portion of the sidewalk, clean up the fallen wall and monitor the wall for any future problems. Gust said the county highway employees working for the state will monitor the wall until a permanent fix can be made.
Since the sidewalk doesn’t meet American Disability Association (ADA) standards, Gust said the permanent repairs won’t be made this year. He said it will take the purchase of some right of way, which could take a while. He hopes to have the sidewalk and retaining wall replaced by 2014.
“We want to do it as soon as possible,” Gust said.
Salmi said the wall was built in 1984 and a portion of it fell around Feb. 27 or 28. The fallen wall is located along Louisa Street between Division and Clay streets.
“The city’s stand is that it was built in an inferior manor,” Salmi said. “There is pressure on the back of the wall because there is a lack of drainage. Also, the salt eats away at the block.”
Gust said the state anticipated a 50-year lifespan for the wall, which didn’t last that long. He said the standards for the retaining wall projects have changed since the one in Darlington was installed.
“When we wrote the standards for the project, they weren’t adequate for the quality and life of the wall we were expecting,” Gust said. “Now our specs are different.”
Salmi said the city replaced the sidewalk above portions of the retaining wall along Louisa Street in 2008. He said he’s had the DOT representatives in Darlington on several occasions look at the deteriorating quality of the wall.
“It was put in with Wisconsin DOT money,” Salmi said. “They should be responsible for fixing it.”
Gust said the DOT doesn’t normally pay for projects like this. After they install sidewalk and retaining walls, it is the municipality’s responsibility to maintain.
“The wall is obviously defective,” Gust said. “That’s why the DOT is paying to fix it.”
He said the project could cost approximately $200,000.
“That could be a big burden on a community this size,” Gust said. “We want to make it right for the community.”
Salmi has been working with Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) to get the issue figured out at the state level.
“People drive by there every day,” Salmi said. “I don’t want them thinking this is a city problem. It needs to get taken care of.”