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Local bridges in good shape for the most part
Boscobel and surrounding counties
LaBelle Street bridge
The bridge on LaBelle Street that spans Sanders Creek by the scout cabin is the newest bridge in town and was built in 2004.

BOSCOBEL - Wisconsin ranks 19th in the nation of structurally deficient bridges, but local bridges are in good shape.

Mike Reynolds, Boscobel director of public works/city engineer, reported that the bridges in the city are categorized with a “good” sufficiency rating.

“The bridges are in excellent shape,” Reynolds said. “All of the bridges in Boscobel have been replaced since 1990.” Bridges are inspected by Grant County every two years, he said.

The newest bridge in town is on LaBelle Street and spans Sanders Creek by the scout cabin. This bridge was built in 2004 according to Reynolds. The oldest bridge in the city limits spanning Sanders Creek is the Kansas Street bridge, which Reynolds said was built in 1990.

“Most of the bridges that get replaced are 60 to 100 years old. The Kansas Street bridge is about 30 years old,” he said. Despite a 100 year flood in 2013, Boscobel’s bridges had few problems, according to Reynolds. The record amount of water that ran over the Bluff Street bridge caused only minor issues.

“We had a little bit of erosion on the Bluff Street bridge during the second night of the 2013 flood,” he said. “The second dose of rain really made things worse than what they were.”

According to Reynolds, the Fremont Street bridge was washed out around the southwest abutment in the 2013 flood.

“The water eroded out a big hole behind the abutment,” he said. “There was no settlement or anything like that. We did have to fix the hole and close the bridge for a while.”

The funding for the bridges in Boscobel, according to Reynolds, has come from the state of Wisconsin and the U.S. government except for the Bluff Street bridge.

Crawford County

Across the river, bridges in Crawford County are in good condition with only a few being considered structurally deficient according to Kyle Kozelka, highway commissioner with the Crawford County Highway Department.

“We have a total of three that qualify,” as deficient Kozelka said. “Two of them are town or village bridges and the third is a combination of box culvert structures.”

One of the three has already been approved for repairs, Kolzelka said.

“The county owns a bridge on the east side of County Highway S near West Fork Knapp Creek,” he said. “The money for this is coming from the local bridge program and the funding is an 80 to 20 split.”

Another bridge in need of repair is in Clayton Township.

“This bridge is on a dead end road and services one home where the people living there are seasonal,” he said. “The bridge is an old wooden structure, but with it only serving one home the Town of Clayton is finding it hard to justify replacing that bridge and the cost when it is only serving one person. We are working with an engineering firm on running a hydraulic analysis and seeing if there is any alternative structure that can be placed there in lieu of that bridge,” Kolzelka said.

The third bridge Kozelka said that is in need of repair or replacement is near the Village of De Soto.

“The county is working with the village on getting that bridge into a funding system or through some funding source so that we can get that bridge replaced,” he said.

Bridge definition

Crawford County does not have many bridges eligible for replacement, and Kolzelka said that there is no feasible way for a municipality to be able to pay for these repairs or replacements unless it is part of a funding source.

“Bridges have to meet a certain sufficiency or deficiency rating in order to qualify for replacement and the funding sources,” he said. “The costs are just too astronomical anymore to do these projects without a funding source.”

Because Wisconsin classifies a bridge as being any structure that spans 20 feet or more that carries motor vehicle traffic, there are smaller structures in Crawford County such as box culverts that do not qualify for the funding sources.

“Because they are not 20 feet, they are left and continue to dilapidate and deteriorate,” Kozelka said.

Both Kozelka and Crawford County are trying to get more funding for fixing these larger culverts. Kozleka said that he has talked with the Wisconsin County Highway Association and the Wisconsin DOT on loosening restrictions for the classification of what a bridge is.

Grant County

Of Grant County’s 384 bridges, 21 have been inspected and rated structurally deficient, according to the Federal Highway Association (FHWA). That’s three less than In 2016, according to the FHWA.

Recently the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) advanced the process for replacement of a bridge south of Woodman on Highway 133 over the Big Green River. The project was originally slated for construction in 2023 according to Wis- DOT, but now will be replaced during the 2022 construction season.

The bridge will replace the existing structure located between County Highway K and County Highway C, south of Woodman. Because of the construction, Highway 133 will be closed to traffic and detoured using U.S. Highway 18 and U.S. Highway 61, Wis- DOT said. This bridge is one of 42 projects that are funded through federal COVID relief funding statewide.

State bridges

Generally, bridges in Southwest Wisconsin that are stateowned are doing well, State Bridge Engineer Josh Dietsche expressed.

“As a state we have about two percent of our bridges that are classified in poor condition,” Dietshe said. “For state owned bridges in Grant County, currently there are four bridges that are structurally deficient. All of those are scheduled to have work done on them whether it is this year or the coming years,” he said.

“In Crawford County there are a few more. Seven stateowned bridges are rated structurally deficient with five of those scheduled to be repaired or replaced. The other two the state will be looking at in the near future as well.”

If a bridge is rated structurally deficient that does not mean that it is unsafe to drive across.

“We put the highest priority on our bridge inventory in Wisconsin because of the possible consequences,’’ he said. When a bridge falls into the structurally deficient category you can still drive across the bridge. This category acts more as a trigger for the WisDOT to check the bridge deterioration more frequently. This is part of the bridge cycle. What we want to do is catch it at the beginning of this cycle so we can repair it and keep it safe for the public.”