TOWN OF MINONG– Washburn County is keeping a close eye on Lakeside Bridge in the town of Minong, fearful that a major storm could take it out.
“If we start getting some heavy rains, that’s one of the first places I will go and check,” said Frank Scalzo, the county’s highway commissioner.
The bridge was built in the mid-1920s on the former Hwy. 53, now Lakeside Road. Flooding in 2016 scoured it, eroding sand, dirt, and rocks away from the abutment.
Scalzo said it is unknown how deep the footings are on the pier, so whenever a high-water event occurs, he measures the scouring with a 25-foot pole to make sure it has not worsened. If it does, he would have the authority to close the bridge.
When the Colton Dam washed out in during the widespread flooding in 2016, the water at Lakeside was to the top of the bridge, at the 15-foot height instead of the usual 3 or 4 feet. Ironically, had the county known that the storm had scoured the bridge, the county could have been reimbursed for some of the repair costs through the federal disaster aid. That bridge had been inspected earlier that year, so it was not until 2018 during its next regular every-other-year inspection that the damage was discovered.
“I’ve been working on trying to get grant money to fix it,” Scalzo said. “I’ve searched avenues like you would not believe and made more phone calls. I can get funding for it. But I can’t get funding for it right away. We probably won’t get funding for that for four to five years under a bridge maintenance program through the state. It’s federal dollars, but state-managed.”
“I’ll keep on top of the grant dollars, and hopefully we’ll get some money,” he added. In the meantime, he expects to get an estimate on projected costs this spring.