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Detour planned on Elm Grove bridge after inspection finds deterioration

Chucks of concrete from bridge falling into Underwood Creek

A recent inspection of the Watertown Plank Road bridge that runs over Underwood Creek in Elm Grove revealed a beam flange under the bridge is in terrible shape. The village said there are chunks of concrete falling from the bridge into the creek.

A recent inspection of the Watertown Plank Road bridge that runs over Underwood Creek in Elm Grove revealed a beam flange under the bridge is in terrible shape. The village said there are chunks of concrete falling from the bridge into the creek. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Jan. 2, 2013

Severe cracks, peeling and exposed steel were found on the Watertown Plank Road bridge in Elm Grove, raising safety concerns for the village's Board of Public Works.

The damage was found during an annual inspection conducted by Collins Engineering of the 50-year-old bridge, which crosses Underwood Creek at the 13400 block of Watertown Plank Road.

In a report given to the board of public works, the engineer noted overburden, section loss, and corroded reinforced steel evident on the north side of the bridge.

The report included pictures of the damage, with intense cracking and peeling seen in several places and pieces of the bridge falling into the creek below.

Causes of the deterioration are unknown.

The Board of Public Works discussed the results of the inspection at its last meeting, with several board members expressing concern over the safety of the bridge being left open to motorists.

"This bridge looks like it's close to failure at the moment," Board of Public Works member Patrick Kressin said after examining the photos. "This beam looks terrible. We've done a lot of bridges and I don't see a lot of beams this bad."

Village Manager Dave DeAngelis said there is no concern for safety at this time.

"We were told the bridge is not in immediate danger of collapsing, but we will move traffic so that this area isn't absorbing any more of a load," DeAngelis told the board.

Estimated costs and repair plans are unknown and will be determined after the village meets with the Department of Transportation.

Richard Paul Jr., director of public works, said the village plans to detour traffic by three to five feet south on the bridge to keep weight off of the affected area until a repair plan is drafted.

"We'll discuss options with the DOT on possible repair plans," Paul said. "We're being proactive and making sure we do what's necessary to make things better."

The board is unsure of when the repairs will take place, but hopes to have necessary work completed before the summer construction season in anticipation of heavier traffic coming through the village during construction on the bypass and Highway 100 at Bluemound Road.

Roy Forsyth of Collins Engineering performed the inspection, but did not return phone calls from Brookfield/Elm Grove NOW.

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