A collapsed bridge in Buffalo County is a “total loss,” and will need to be completely replaced, a county highway department official said.
The bridge on County Highway U partly collapsed on Monday, causing two car crashes, according to the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office.
Buffalo County Highway Commissioner Bob Platteter said work will begin next week to install a temporary bypass bridge. The work will be performed by county highway employees and Larson Construction of Chippewa Falls.
“The bridge itself is a total loss and needs a full replacement,” Platteter said. He added that the replacement bridge is expected to cost between $400,000 and $500,000.
Platteter said he didn’t know what caused the collapse, but he suspects that last summer’s flooding could have something to do with the failure of the 100-year-old bridge in the town of Waumandee.
He also said the highway department is checking the stability of nearby bridges.
The county met with state transportation officials on Wednesday to discuss the bridge collapse.
A Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokesperson said that afternoon that the department was working with the Federal Highway Administration to see if the county can receive money for emergency repairs.
The collapsed bridge caught at least two drivers off guard on Monday, resulting in two separate accidents. The first vehicle rolled over before striking one of the bridge’s abutments, and the second drove off the edge of the bridge and went airborne.
The first driver refused medical treatment. The second was treated for minor injuries, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The bridge collapse came less than a week after the American Road & Transportation Builders Association released a report finding that nearly 9 percent of Wisconsin’s 14,230 bridges were “structurally deficient.” The report reached its conclusions by reviewing federal transportation data throughout the U.S.
Bridges that are labeled structurally deficient are not necessarily in immediate danger of collapse. The term is applied when spans require rehabilitation or replacement because at least one of their major components is showing signs of advanced deterioration or other defects.
The Associated Press also contributed to this report.