GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A sagging Green Bay bridge that’s been closed since late last month is forecast to reopen by early next year, state officials said Tuesday.
The state Department of Transportation has put out bids that call for work to be completed by Jan. 17, WisDOT secretary Mark Gottlieb said. There will be incentives for finishing earlier and penalties for missing the deadline, he added.
It’s not immediately clear how much the final repairs will cost. WisDOT spokesman Kim Rudat said the agency didn’t want to discuss costs before contractors started submitting bids next week.
Permanent repairs could cost as much as $50 million, according to preliminary estimates. However, that figure could fluctuate as transportation officials develop a final repair plan.
The Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge has been closed since Sept. 25 when it was found to be sagging about 2 feet. The bridge has sunk another three-quarters of an inch since then, but the most problematic pillar, Pier 22, has not sunk any further in the last 2-½ weeks, project manager Tom Buchholz said.
“All the rest have remained stable, so that’s a good thing,” he said.
Buchholz said moderate to severe corrosion was found in the steel pilings in five piers. He said the corrosion was apparently caused by the presence of a corrosive, powdery substance in the soil that may be the result of industrial residue. The investigation is also ongoing for all of the bridge piers, according to WisDOT.
Immediate repairs call for erecting temporary supports, at a cost of $1.5 million. The long-term plan will involve installing new support shafts that extend about 120 feet and will be embedded 7 to 8 feet in underlying bedrock. The top parts of the shaft will be covered in heavy-duty plastic to withstand corrosion.
The bridge, which opened in 1980, carried about 40,000 cars daily over the Fox River. It stretches 8,000 feet and is the second-longest bridge in Wisconsin.
The Federal Highway Administration has determined the repairs are eligible for federal funding, the state announced earlier this month. The federal money will cover 100 percent of emergency repairs within 180 days of the bridge’s closure on Sept. 25 and 90 percent of emergency and permanent repairs thereafter.