Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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WIS 116 - Need/purpose

Wolf River Bridge midspan

Why is this project needed?

The need for a new Wolf River Bridge is due primarily to its regional importance and deficiencies with the existing bridge. The existing pavement and underground utilities along Main St. are deteriorating and also in need of replacement.

Bridge deficiencies

Average bridge service life is 50 to 75 years. The Wolf River Bridge was constructed in 1934 and is approaching the end of its useful life. Most of the primary elements of the bridge’s structural, electrical, and mechanical systems are original. As the bridge ages, the frequency of major repairs is expected to increase. While the bridge is still safe for travel, the National Bridge Inventory has identified the Wolf River Bridge as deficient based on its sufficiency rating.

Specific deficiencies on the existing bridge include:

  • Non-redundant bascule bridge span
    • The bridge’s bascule span is a two-girder, non-redundant span, now considered to be an undesirable method of construction.
    • Failure by damage, overload, or fatigue to one of the girders would result in failure to the entire span. Because the bascule span is fracture-critical or non-redundant, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation inspects it annually. Annual inspections have determined the bridge is safe for travel.
  • Aging of concrete
    • The concrete of the two abutments, six approach piers and two larger bascule piers exhibit spalling, cracking, and exposed reinforcing steel.
    • All piers are situated underneath deck joints. Leakage through the joints over the years has caused deterioration in the substructure concrete.
    • Previous concrete repairs were made to all piers, but the condition of those repairs is fair to poor.
  • Functionally obsolete
    • The bridge is classified as functionally obsolete due to its narrow deck width.

System linkage and route importance

The location of the WIS 116 Wolf River crossing is vital to residents of Winneconne and the surrounding region. The closest Wolf River system crossings are the US 41 bridge over Lake Butte des Morts, 9.5 miles to the southeast, and the US 10 bridge near Fremont, 19.5 miles to the north.

In this growing corridor, the WIS 116 river crossing is a critical link, allowing residents to travel to Oshkosh and the Fox Valley via US 45 and US 41. The crossing is vital to many daily functions of those living in the Winneconne area including: access to employment, educational facilities, retail, health care providers, recreation, and trucking access.

At the local level, WIS 116 connects the village’s residential, commercial, and industrial development and provides access to community resources and services on both sides of the Wolf River. The village’s fire and police departments, both on the west side of the river, depend on the crossing to reach emergencies on the east side.

The community’s high school, middle school, and elementary school are located on the east side of the river, with employment opportunities on both sides of the WIS 116 bridge.

Project benefits

  • Safety
    • The bridge replacement will address the deficiencies of the existing Wolf River Bridge. Changes in road design should help improve safety within the remainder of the village.
  • Improved traffic flow/boat passage
    • The fixed bridge design will accommodate boat passage without requiring opening and closing of a bascule span. The existing WIS 116 bridge is opened much more frequently compared with other bascule bridges in the area. This adversely impacts traffic flow through the downtown area and also increases potential for delays in emergency response times.
  • Improved multi-modal opportunities
    • Both the bridge and roadway projects will provide better accommodations for bicycle and pedestrian travel.
  • Enhanced recreational access
    • New fishing piers will provide enhanced opportunities for fishing in downtown Winneconne and also benefit the local economy. A new bridge will provide safer accommodations for snowmobile crossings during winter months.
  • Reduced costs
    • A fixed bridge is significantly cheaper than a bascule bridge, both in initial construction cost and long-term maintenance cost.

SSI - Project contacts Questions about the content of this page:
WisDOT Northeast Region Office, ner.dtsd@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: June 10, 2014

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