UPDATE: Lafayette Bridge demolition successful, new findings sho - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Lafayette Bridge demolition successful, new findings show major instability

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Town of Lafayette (WQOW) - The Lafayette bridge that shut down on Mother's Day, met its match this week.

The bridge became unstable when demolition first began in mid-June. After various tries to safely deconstruct the bridge, Larson Construction Co. decided to cut the concrete with saws, as it's the most cost-effective way of removal.

They were able to remove the steel girders and bridge deck successfully and without any pieces falling into the water below. However, it was a complicated process. Construction workers had to deal with asbestos and lead paint. A dive team was sent to retrieve the steel pilings from the water bed on Tuesday, and what they found was shocking.

"I can't believe that bridge was still upright," said Tim MacLaughlin, vice president of Larson Construction Co. "It was so unstable literally once we had the bridge deck off the supporting units that hold the bridge deck up, we could it rock back and forth by hand. The thing that did this bridge in aside from somebody driving a large weight over it, there are steel-eating microbes in Lake Wissota, which they probably did not know in 1964 when they built this original design."

The new bridge will be put out to bid by the Department of Transportation in January, with construction beginning next summer. The estimated expenses of the demolition was $75,000. The waterway is expected to open Thursday morning.


Town of Lafayette (WQOW) - Demolition began on the Lafayette bridge this week. You'll remember it was shut down Mother's Day weekend because of damage caused by a heavy load. However, construction workers are running into a bit of a problem.

Tim MacLaughlin, vice president of operations for Larson Construction Co., said they recently attempted saw cuts, but the bridge was not stabilizing. He said any vibrations from work with saws or even jackhammers could risk the 500,000 pound bridge deck to collapse. Larson Construction Co. is currently exploring other options to prevent this collapse. 

Officials estimated costs of the project to be between $50,000 and $100,000. They hope to finish their work in the next couple of weeks. MacLaughlin said boaters will be able to use that pass once demolition is finished.


Town of Lafayette (WQOW) -- A bridge that partially collapsed over Mother's Day weekend will be demolished.

Town of Lafayette Chairman Dave Staber told News 18 that the bridge will be torn down starting the third week of June, with the $60,000 demolition slated to be completed by July 4. 

Staber said they hope to take bids for the new bridge January 2019 and begin construction in May. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has capped their spending on the project at $960,000, which means the town and county will need to make up the difference of the estimated $1.3 million project.

Staber is warning all drivers to not test their luck on the bridge, adding: "It could come down at any time". Staber also said no boats will be allowed to travel under the bridge while the demolition is underway.


Town of Lafayette (WQOW) -- A Chippewa County bridge is closed indefinitely after it was damaged beyond repair.

The bridge, in the Town of Lafayette, which crosses Paint Creek, is closed until is can be replaced.

Town Chairman, David Staber, told News 18 the bridge was supposed to be replaced this year, with a projected cost of just under $1 million, but that date was pushed to 2021 and now has an estimated price tag of $1.7 million.

Staber said the DOT told the town board there are not enough funds to replace the bridge right now. However, Staber said it can't wait three years, especially with the fire department just down the road.

It has not been officially determined, but Staber told News 18 the damage could have been caused by a driver who ignored the 18-ton weight limit. Staber also said they are working as quickly as possible to fix the issue, but he asked in the mean-time, for drivers to be patient.

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