Special Report: Broken Bridges Part 2

Bong Bridge Maintenance

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“If a bridge is open, it is safe,” said Allan Bjorklund, regional bridge maintenance and inspection engineer for WisDOT.

That’s the message the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is sending drivers.

“We try and perform maintenance on that to keep them in as good of shape as we can with the funding limitations that we have,” said Bjorklund.

Of the more than 14,000 bridges in Wisconsin, there are over 1,500 deficient bridges statewide.

Right now, the Bong Bridge is being maintained.

“It costs a lot of money to replace them versus maintaining them,” explained Bjorklund.

Rehab work is being done even though it wasn’t to the point of being structurally deficient.

“30 years is a pretty good time for some rehab work,” said Bjorklund.

Workers are placing a concrete overlay, replacing joints and painting the arch.

This all started with leaky joints.

“Just over time those seals get dirt in them, they get compressed by traffic,” said Bjorklund.

The most obvious change in the bridge is the difference you can see in paint colors where joints have been replaced.

Half of the bridges is done and the other half will be completed by October.

“We should get a pretty decent life out of this fix,” said Bjorklund.

In fact, WisDOT expects this fix to last 20-25 years.

“The larger bridges they want to push out to a little bit longer,” said Bjorklund.

Engineers are hoping newer bridges will be able to last 100 years.

“When they’re this much money to construct, you don’t want to have to; you want to get as much out of them as you can,” said Bjorklund.

Stressing the importance of bridge maintenance.

“It keeps the bridge open and safe and in serviceable condition,” said Bjorklund.

Engineers said the maintenance is being done because the main goal is keeping the public safe.

“If a bridge is open to traffic, it is safe for legal loads. If it’s posted, it’s safe for posted loads,” said Bjorklund.

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