“Everyone’s just got to deal with it:” SB US 45 shut down near Richfield through evening rush hour

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RICHFIELD -- It was a slow commute on Thursday, September 17th as an emergency pavement repair on US 45 southbound, just north of the US 41/45 split, is completely shut down. Officials closed it down around 10 a.m. and three potholes are to blame.

Earlier Thursday, barricades were blocking the entrance to I-45 south, and traffic was sent east or west. Drivers who chose to head west and get on I-41, dealt with backups so bad it took about thirty minutes to travel six miles.

"They were first observed at 7:30 this morning," said the Project Manager for the Department of Transportation, Tony Minot.

Around 8:30 a.m., the DOT decided to shut down a portion of the freeway because the holes were growing.

"Even in the amount of time between 7:30, when they were first noticed, and 10 a.m. when we had the shut down, they about doubled in size," said Minot.

The holes grew to nearly five feet by five feet -- a major traffic concern for motorists.

"Because it's on the freeway it was going to become a safety issue very quickly," said Minot.

The DOT shut down a portion of Highway 45 south that connects with I-41.

"There was an option to shut down I-41 as well, however that carries a much greater volume of cars," said Minot.

So instead, the DOT reduced it to one lane, and that caused traffic to back way up.

Chad Engstrom travels this route four times a month, Thursday morning was a much longer commute.

"Ran into stopped traffic well before Richfield all the way through, basically all through Menomonee Falls and Germantown. It was very slow going, lots of vehicles," said Chad Engstrom, lives in Wausau.

Crews spent more than six hours resurfacing the 41/45 corridor from the split all the way to Highway Q at the county line. They also replaced a culvert just south of where the pavement failed.

"Everyone's just got to deal with it. It's Wisconsin's summers you know? We have two seasons; construction and winters," said Engstrom.

Engstrom is now heading north, and that should be a smooth ride.

"I shouldn't have any problems, so I'm looking forward to that," Engstrom said.

The freeway closure lasted throughout Thursday evening and opened back up around 9 p.m.

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