**Update** Highway 73 is now OPEN (4/21/2016)
(Taylor County) The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is continuing its investigation into a failing culvert pipe that has resulted in the closure of Highway 73 north of Thorp.
“During a routine inspection on Wednesday, it was discovered that the ‘floor’ of the culvert was starting to buckle upwards,” said Gary Brunner, WisDOT’s Regional Operations Chief. “There is some visible pavement distress from the surface of the roadway, indicating the culvert is moving/collapsing and it needs to be replaced.”
The closure is located in Taylor County 5 miles north of Thorp. Highway 73 remains open through the city of Thorp.
The steel culvert was placed in 1984 is approximately 8 feet high and 12 feet wide. A branch of the Eau Claire River flows through the culvert. The culvert’s floor has buckled approximately one and one-half feet. There is about four feet of water flowing through the culvert.
“This is an area with acidic soils,” Brunner said. “It appears normal deterioration has weakened the structure to the point where it was starting to collapse in on itself.”
WisDOT staff is working with Taylor County and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to determine how best to replace the culvert. There are a number of variables that are being considered such as the availability of adequate sized culverts, what construction methods to employ, and the impacts and length of construction time of those various methods.
According to Brunner, WisDOT should have sufficient data to be able to make a decision on how to proceed by the end of next week.
Until the culvert is replaced, the road will remain closed with an official detour using State Highways 27, 29 and 64 through Chippewa and Taylor Counties.