Wisconsin’s Misplaced Priorities on Display as Green Bay Bridge Sags

The Leo Fringo Memorial Bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin is sagging 22 inches. Image: ##http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/09/26/interstate-43-bridge-closed-wisconsin/2879919/##USA Today##

In yet another reminder of what happens when states ignore their existing infrastructure while plotting massive road expansions, a section of heavily traveled bridge in Green Bay Wisconsin is “sagging” nearly two feet. Authorities have closed the bridge, which carries about 40,000 vehicles a day, after frantic calls from drivers.

USA Today carried this transcript from 9-1-1 calls reporting the problem early Wednesday:

Truck driver: I hope it’s not an emergency. I didn’t know who else to call. … It looks like there’s a part (of the I-43 bridge) that’s sagging.
Dispatcher: A part that’s sagging?
Truck driver: Yes, usually, I mean a bridge goes like it’s a hump. … There’s a section of the bridge that’s actually a dip.

Under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has been on a highway-building binge. Some $6 billion in projects are planned, including the $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange outside Milwaukee. But in the race to expand, other transportation priorities have suffered, including transit and the maintenance of existing roads. All the while, Walker has resisted seeking new revenues through gas taxes or tolls to shore up the state’s transportation coffers.

Thankfully no one was injured in Green Bay. But perhaps it’s time Wisconsin rethought its grandiose plans for a double-decker highway in Milwaukee for less splashy alternatives, like making sure the state’s bridges are sound.

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