MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin DOT closed the Becher Street on-ramp to northbound I-43/I-94 suddenly Tuesday evening, after obtaining results from a recent bridge inspection.
The inspection shows significant deterioration at two bridge pier locations. Top safety engineers will review this area and surrounding bridges in the next several days to determine the next steps.
This bridge closure could change the commute for thousands of Milwaukee drivers. Alderman Jim Witkowiak shared information from the DOT Wednesday on why crews feel the situation is so bad, that it needed such quick attention. "They felt that what they discovered was serious enough that they had to close the ramp immediately. The DOT feels there may be some structural problems beneath the road bed on the ramp," Witkowiak said.
The DOT says two pillars that hold up the ramp have them concerned. The ramp was getting its yearly inspection when it failed safety tests. Wednesday, the DOT sent some of the state's top inspectors to take a closer look.
With the ramp closed, over 5,000 vehicles who use Becher every day, have to find a new route. Many are choosing to head straight in front of Dan Druml's business, Paul Davis Restoration. "The speed limit I think is 20, 35 miles-per-hour, and that's certainly not being enforced today," Druml said.
With the increased traffic, what worries Druml is not just keeping his workers safe, but also his neighbors up the street, St. Anthony High School. "There is a lot of kids walking around with the high school up here. We've always been concerned with the safety, and there's a lot of accidents in this area," Druml said.
Witkowiak is also concerned about the increased traffic and confused drivers seemingly ignoring the posted speed limits in the area as they make their way around the closed ramp. "We've notified the police department to please do some speed checking here, just to make sure people know this is a 30 miles speed limit to begin with," Witkowiak said.
Inspectors will be back out at the bridge Thursday, and that's when we may know exactly what is wrong, and how long it will take to fix. City officials say if you're traveling through the area, slow down! Officials recommend using Lapham, just a few blocks away, as an alternative.