Utility upgrade to cause temporary bridge closure
The Phillip Street Bridge in Rhinelander will be closed to traffic beginning Aug. 14 for up to three weeks. Star Journal photo.
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – Saying it was “the last thing in the world” he wanted to do, Rhinelander Public Works Director Randy Myrum announced another road closure in the city.
The Phillip Street Bridge will be closed to traffic two to three weeks beginning Aug. 14 to replace the water main.
“When we weigh the safety concerns [Musson Brothers Inc. project manager Scott Dennis] has for his crew and the fact that it would cost an additional $15,000-$20,000 to implement traffic control, I felt the better option is to issue a detour,” Myrum said at the July 24 Rhinelander City Council meeting.
Replacement of the 50-year-old water main was postponed from last summer for two reasons. There was a delay by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that regulates dams to approve the permit and scope of work. Secondly, Dennis said they were unable to procure the type of pipe needed.
The FERC controls the dam, tells the city how the work can be done and when. FERC will not allow Musson Brothers to be in the water to work on the project, which Dennis said is the usual way to tackle bridge work. Instead the work will be done from atop the bridge deck.
“We measured the bridge and the lane width and our equipment is going to take up almost the entirety of one lane,” said Dennis. “By the time we put cones across that and try to maintain portable traffic signals, if there is one little mistake by an independent driver or somebody texting while they’re coming through there and they would happen to run into the side of our machine on the bridge, we could lose all our men right into the canal.”
The current plan is to allow pedestrian traffic. Passenger vehicle traffic will be rerouted to Davenport Street and trucks will be routed to cross the river at Kemp Street or Boyce Drive.