After delays, the finish line is in sight for the $2.3 million maintenance of Chippewa Falls’ Highway 124 bridge that began last year.
“We’re expecting to wrap that up in 2018,” said state Department of Transportation (DOT) project supervisor Tara Weiss. “Right now, we’ve been working on the foundation repairs and would like to hopefully finalize those … in the next month or two.”
In recent weeks, workers have been pouring concrete to reinforce two of the five piers under construction.
When those repairs are complete, two lanes of traffic will be switched to the northbound bridge. Currently, both lanes are routed onto the southbound structure.
Construction will then begin on the southbound structure.
“I think (repairs on) the southbound bridge will be really similar to what we did last spring,” Weiss said. The southbound gutters and sidewalks will also get repairs.
She anticipates that phase to last roughly two months, and the project as a whole to wrap up in mid-to-late summer in 2018.
“Our caveat to all this is weather and high water,” Weiss said. “If we get a lot of flooding and spring runoff, that can delay items.”
The project has been ongoing since April 2017. In June, the DOT shut down both spans of the bridge after it found erosion near the northbound bridge’s foundation, a department statement said.
Initially, DOT spokespeople expected the maintenance to conclude in 2017. But crews found deteriorated concrete and erosion on five piers, and the damage was more extensive than expected, a DOT spokeswoman told the Herald in September.
“It was a difficult situation to bore and construct these micropiles, which are the additional support for the footings,” Weiss said. “There was lower overhead clearance on barges underneath the bridge … so it gets difficult to keep barges in place.”
Bloomer bridges get $1M maintenance
The DOT announced in March that four Bloomer-area bridges will also get $1 million in maintenance work done in the summer of 2018.
Three of the bridges are on Highway 124 and cross O’Neil Creek; those bridges will receive deck replacements.
A fourth bridge, one on Highway 64 that also spans O’Neil Creek, will get a concrete masonry overlay, the DOT said.
The maintenance – which is funded by federal and state dollars – is standard for the four bridges at this stage, Weiss said: “They’re at a point we typically see certain treatments during the life cycle of bridges.”
Chippewa County Highway Commissioner Brian Kelley could not be reached for comment Friday on the bridge’s status.
Traffic will be routed along County Highway S, U.S. 53 and Highway 64 during construction, which is slated to begin April 2. Work is expected to last approximately three months.