Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a news conference on the closure of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge Wednesday at the DOT offices in Ashwaubenon. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media
Search a database of nearly 18,000 records of Wisconsin bridges based on the latest National Bridge Inventory, which comes from inspections conducted between 2009 and 2012. They show each bridge’s overall rating on a 100-point scale. You can search bridges a number of ways, including in which county they are located and who maintains the spans. Another click into each listing will show ratings of the bridge deck and other related structures. It’s online at greenbaypressgazette.com/leofrigo.
Gov. Scott Walker is asking the federal government to provide emergency funding for repairs to Green Bay’s damaged Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge.
Walker signed a declaration of emergency Friday as the first action necessary in the process of applying for federal funds for the troubled bridge.
“This is the first step to open the door for federal relief,” the governor said in late-morning news briefing via telephone.
State officials said the last time they could recall Wisconsin seeking such federal support was after the 2000 partial collapse of Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge.
If the Federal Highway Administration approves the request, the federal government would provide as much as 100 percent reimbursement for all state and local costs associated with the Leo Frigo bridge incident. Officials said the funding would be retroactive and would cover up to six months of expenses.
The bridge, which carries Interstate 43 traffic across the Fox River in Green Bay, has been closed since early Wednesday after a 400-foot section sagged about 2 feet and created a pronounced dip in the concrete deck.
The project’s eligibility for federal assistance could depend on what caused the problem.
State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb, who joined Walker in announcing the bid for federal funds, said funding could be awarded if the bridge sank into the ground because of a structural failure, but not if the 33-year-old structure was just showing signs of normal aging.
“Until we know the cause, we won’t know for sure,” Gottlieb said.
Investigators plan to work through the weekend to determine what caused the situation, with the first phase of the investigation expected to go into next week.
The Federal Highway Administration has dispatched experts to help the state Department of Transportation determine why the I-43 bridge sagged and what sort of repairs are needed before it can be reopened to traffic.
DOT workers will begin digging up soil near the base of the bridge’s sagging pier Saturday and will place sensors on that pier and one on each side to alert workers of any possible movement. Workers will then assess bridge damage Sunday using a scissor lift. Crews hope to determine what caused the pier to sink and find if any other portions were impacted. If there are further issues, it would most likely involve the piers adjacent to it, said Brian Roper, chief of the bridge repair project.
“We’re continuing to work as quickly as we can, but more importantly as safely as we can, to get to the bottom of what occurred to figure out an appropriate fix and to be able to move forward so that eventually we can get that bridge back open,” Roper said.
The four-lane bridge could be out of service for months or perhaps even a year, officials have indicated. Traffic detours have led to significant congestion on some surrounding roads.
Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt has indicated that he expects help paying for extra police patrols and other city costs related to the problem.
State officials have not offered any estimates on the overall potential cost, although engineers have indicated that they expect to end up replacing at least the pier that has sunk into the ground.
Walker said it was too early to speculate how much it would cost to get the bridge fixed and reopened. If the federal government cannot help, he said, the state could make adjustments in its existing transportation budget to fund it.
“We certainly would have some flexibility for something like this,” he said.
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