State approves contract to reconstruct Black Earth bridge

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BLACK EARTH, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker approved a $2.8 million emergency contract Friday to reconstruct two bridges on U.S. 14 in Black Earth.

Preliminary work to replace the bridges is already underway and will officially start Monday. Construction is scheduled to be finished in mid-November. The bridges on highway 14 are the main access points into Black Earth.

“Highway 14 sees over 10,000 vehicles of traffic a day commuting in and out of Madison and to their homes in rural areas. This is a huge hit,” Shellie Benish, village administrator for Black Earth said.

“We really encourage people to patronize Black Earth during this difficult time. Access is open to Black Earth using highway 78 and local roads,” Michael Bie, a Department of Transportation spokesperson said.

Bie said they looked into temporary fixes but the mid-November reopening date is relatively quick for a permanent bridge.

“Temporary fixes just weren't going to be sufficient under the circumstances. Providing a temporary bridge was something we examined but ultimately putting in temporary structures would’ve delayed the completion of permanent structures,” Bie said.

Benish said she’s excited to for the emergency funding and believes it will help Black Earth residents, many of whom were impacted personally by the flood, get back on their feet.

“Most people know bridge work can take up to three years, they are going to try and get this done in the next three months,” Benish said. “We will be a stronger community as a result of what happened.”

The lead contractor, Kraemer North America, was at the site Friday assessing plans.