Hoan Bridge section gives out
Published: December 13, 2000
Dec. 13, 2000 Two steel girders gave out on the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee Wednesday morning, dropping a span of the bridge 3 to 4 feet and leaving Department of Transportation engineers with a major repair job. “We’re trying to figure out if it was a brittle transition, the load or the weather,” said Don Rhodes, DOT communications manager. “We had some experts come in this afternoon, and we should have it figured out within a day or two.” Two of the three major support beams for the high point of the bridge gave out at about 7:30 a.m., leaving just one beam to support the majority of the bridge load, Rhodes said. Cracks formed through the width of the beams a few hundred feet south of the highest point on the bridge on the northbound traffic side, he said. “It looks like one section where two girders failed with cracks about 10 feet high,” Rhodes said. “Now we have one girder supporting a concrete bed. The question is: Can we take the section out and fix it or does it affect other sections?” Rhodes said he doesn’t yet know who will fix the bridge, how it will be repaired or if the repair job will go through the traditional bidding process. He said the DOT is considering emergency support plans for the bridge until a complete repair is in place. A citizen reported a dip in the bridge at 7:14 a.m. Wednesday, and a sheriff’s deputy arrived 10 minutes later and called for the bridge to be closed, Capt. Sherry Weber of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department said.
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The bridge was closed in both directions a short time later, she said. No one was reported injured from the concrete that fell from the bridge, which spans the Milwaukee River and part of the city’s Summerfest grounds. When DOT officials routinely inspected the bridge last week, they found some cracking and called in some consultants for further inspection, said Linda Thelke, a DOT spokeswoman. But DOT Southeastern Wisconsin District Director Les Fafard said no cracks were found in the three beams during that inspection. “It’s not uncommon to have cracking on a steel bridge structure,” Thelke said. “At that time it looked like we had time to solve the problem. With the cold weather, that has probably accelerated what was going on.” Fafard said workers may have to replace the entire damaged section of the bridge. He said he did not know when the bridge would reopen. (Associated Press contributed to this report.)