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“Risk on the Rails:” Repairs coming to S. 1st Street bridge, but one expert says that won’t solve the problem

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MILWAUKEE -- FOX6's "Risk on the Rails" series of investigations is getting results. FOX6 News exposed safety concerns at the S. 1st Street railroad bridge -- and it's now scheduled to be fixed. This, as one railroad safety expert says the repairs won't solve the problem.

The bridge crosses S. 1st Street and West Oregon Street -- a century-old span that's being rusted away by road salt.

S. 1st Street railroad bridge

S. 1st Street railroad bridge

In May, FOX6 showed you I-beams corroded at the base to a fraction of their original thickness.

"We`re talking about vertical supports on a railroad bridge that are just terribly deteriorated and dangerous," Bob Comer, a national railroad safety expert said. "In looking at the FOX6 investigation, the series, it is obvious to me with my 26 years of experience doing investigations, that this bridge is in terrible condition."

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

Canadian Pacific, the railroad company that owns the bridge, says it is safe.

But the company refused to show FOX6 News, or city of Milwaukee leaders, a single bridge inspection report to support that claim.

"We haven't gotten that from the railroad," Alderman Terry Witkowski said.

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

"Unfortunately, you're probably not likely to," Gregg Hagopian, assistant city attorney said.

City leaders are learning what FOX6 already know: Railroad companies regulate themselves -- and they don't have to reveal the results of their inspections.

But clearly, Canadian Pacific discovered something when it sent inspectors to the bridge after FOX6's original investigation.

Bob Comer

Bob Comer

"There is a permit application right now to encase some of the structural supports of the bridge in concrete casing," Hagopian said.

Comer calls this "a band-aid."

"It's the wrong thing to do. The bridge needs to be replaced," Comer said.

And Comer says until that happens, city leaders should shut the bridge down.

"You have the right as an incorporated city to go out and close that bridge down because it is a severe public safety hazard," Comer said.

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

After seeing FOX6's series of reports, Comer contacted the city about closing the bridge.

The Office of the City Attorney tells FOX6 News that's something it is looking into -- but with Canadian Pacific now agreeing to fix the bridge, that's probably not a track it's going to take.

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

S. 1st Street bridge - Fifth Ward

Google Map for coordinates 42.997406 by -87.912878.

3 comments

  • Robert Martin

    Noe only the metal supports.As you drive under this “dissaster waiting to happen” ,gling south, ook to your left and you will see concrete supports, totally eroded!

  • CherylPBuckman

    ..>>Now Here…my roomate’s half-sister makes $77 every hour on the internet .// She has been fired for five months but last month her income was $16332 just working on the internet for a few hours. Look At This…..>>>>Read~More~Here

  • hunter

    encasing in concrete will add support,you add more rebar, and use a higher p.s.i concrete, that guy should get out the books and re program. as for the other comment concrete does break down from salt over time, as does everything else, also the reinforcement process will also be designed by an engineer, if this is band aiding the liability on the engineer is astronomical!!

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