The I-39/90/94 Wisconsin River Bridge will soon be replaced with two new bridges for traffic in both directions, eliminating the need for repairs to the original structure following over 60 years of deterioration.
These replacement bridges will be constructed using funds from President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
According to WisDOT, the Wisconsin River Bridge is inspected every two years to assess the condition of each bridge element. The latest assessment found the concrete deck and piers, as well as supplementary steel elements, to be in poor condition. The assessment also deemed various parts of the steel girders, which help hold the bridge together, to be in either poor, or severe condition.
The Wisconsin River Bridge has been repaired seven times since it was constructed in 1961, according to WisDOT. The department claims that even with the past repair work, deficiencies remain with the existing bridge due to the nature of how bridge elements deteriorate over time, hence the need for the two new bridges. WisDOT did stress, however, that these deficiencies do not deem the current bridge unsafe.
The new bridges are also expected to benefit the economy, as 23% of the current bridge’s traffic comes from trucks since the route connects major economic hubs such as Milwaukee, Chicago, and Madison, Wis.
“The route also connects major tourism destinations, with a large share of Wisconsin’s tourism revenue coming from the counties adjacent to the project area,” according to a statement from the US Department of Transportation. “Further, the high-performance materials used in the construction will reduce the need and frequency for maintenance.”
This project is specifically being funded by the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program, which awards grants for freight and highway projects that “improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas.” The program’s funding was increased by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Wisconsin River Bridge is far from the only one with issues in the state, however. In Wisconsin, there are 979 bridges in poor condition.
Two other overcrossing bridges for nearby county roads—County Highways U and V— will also be replaced thanks to the infrastructure law.
As of May, $2.1 billion in funding from the infrastructure law has been allocated towards Wisconsin roads, bridges, roadway safety, and other major projects.
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