Paint Creek Bridge replacement a priority

Release date: May 22, 2018​

The 195th Street Bridge over Paint Creek in the Town of Lafayette has been closed to all traffic due to safety concerns.  In addition, the channel of Paint Creek beneath the structure is also closed to waterway traffic.

The bridge was closed to all surface traffic on Sunday May 13th, after the Town of Lafayette learned that the bridge had significant deformation. On Monday May 21st, bridge inspectors from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) inspected the bridge to further evaluate the cause and extent of failure, and the results of that investigation prompted officials to recommend closing the creek channel beneath the structure to waterway traffic due to safety concerns.

“This bridge has had a partial collapse with buckled pier piles and is in danger of further collapse. In addition to the existing closure of the bridge to vehicular traffic, I highly recommend closure to boat traffic under the bridge to ensure public safety,” said Scot Becker, WisDOT’s Bureau of Structures Director.

WisDOT structural engineers suspect an overweight load was the catalyst for this failure. Structural analysis was done to post this bridge at an 18-ton limit in recognition of the existing condition. With the planned inspection and monitoring of this bridge, WisDOT engineers believe strict adherence to the posted load limit would have enabled this bridge to service eligible traffic until the time of originally planned replacement in 2021.

The Town of Lafayette and Chippewa County took fast action and closed waterway access under the bridge. Waterway closure warning devices were installed this afternoon using a floating buoy & cable system. “Channel Closed” signs were placed at the bridge facing both upstream and downstream.  The Wisconsin DNR approved closure of the Paint Creek channel on an emergency basis.

A new bridge is planned for construction in the summer of 2019. “Replacing the 195th Street Bridge over Paint Creek is a very high priority for the Town of Lafayette and Chippewa County,” said Brian Kelley, Chippewa County Highway Commissioner. “We appreciate the state’s quick response and we’re confident that we can work together to replace the bridge in 2019.”

Town and County officials are working diligently with potential contractors to schedule an expedited bridge removal project, with completion expected prior to July 4th. The channel will remain closed until the bridge superstructure and piers can be removed. 

The department has instituted a replace-in-kind policy. The department’s emphasis is on maintaining a system of safe and effective bridges statewide. Eligible project costs are those that replace the existing structure, with necessary adjustments made to meet current standards, safety and other factors.

“The goal of the replace-in-kind policy is to get more safe projects done," stated Secretary Dave Ross. "This remains a priority because more projects mean enhanced safety and economic prosperity across Wisconsin. WisDOT partnering with Chippewa County and the local officials will result in a quality structure that will serve this community for decades to come." 

WisDOT’s Local Bridge Program was established to rehabilitate and replace, on a cost-shared basis, the most seriously deteriorating existing local bridges on Wisconsin’s local highway system. The program funds up to 80 percent of eligible costs of the project.

For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
(608) 266-3581, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov

Brian Kelley, P.E., Chippewa County Highway Commissioner
(715) 738-2613, bkelley@co.chippewa.wi.us