CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. – Construction will resume this week on the busy northbound Hwy. 124 bridge, which crosses the Chippewa River in Chippewa Falls, and should conclude later this year, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said Friday.
Diana Maas, communications manager for the Wisconsin DOT, said the renovations will be done on all the northbound piers to reinforce the bridge footings. In mid-July, Maas said the bridge would remain "closed indefinitely" and wouldn't rule out that the work wouldn't be completed this year as engineers figure out the best way to resolve problems with the bridge.
That bridge, which has two spans, has five piers. The project will "address deteriorating concrete and strengthen weight-bearing capacity" on two piers and will "install protective treatment" around the footings of the other three piers, "diminishing risk for erosion and increasing service life of this bridge," Maas wrote in a news release Friday.
The work on both the northbound and southbound bridges began in April and included removing deteriorated concrete, making bridge deck repairs and improving curb and gutter, beam guard, signing and pavement marking.
However, during the renovations this summer, workers "became aware of unexpected deficiencies of the bridge foundation at pier 3 on the northbound structure."
Wisconsin DOT briefly closed both bridges in June after scour, or erosion, was discovered under water. Project manager Paul Conlin said erosion can occur on a structure like this bridge because of fast-moving water. The erosion problems are more prevalent on the northbound bridge, he said. The southbound bridge, carrying one lane of traffic in each direction, later was reopened.
Maas said she now expects the northbound bridge repairs to be completed by the end of the year. Throughout the work, the northbound structure will remain closed, with traffic continuing to move one lane, each way, on the southbound bridge.
"After completion of the northbound pier repairs, traffic will resume on the northbound and southbound roadways throughout the winter," Maas said. "The final phase of the Highway 124 improvement project will resume with work on the southbound structure in spring 2018."
The bridge was built in the early 1990s and is inspected every couple of years, Conlin said. An estimated 17,000 vehicles typically cross it each day.