GREEN BAY - The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has determined corrosion caused the Leo Frigo Bridge to sag.
So FOX 11 asked, what's in the soil that could have caused the corrosion of the bridge's support pillars?
Scientists say it has to do with the chemical makeup of the soil, the top layers of which were brought in as filler during the development of the area.
“It started with the soil borings from the original project, which gave us an idea of the soil sampling done in the 70s. We also looked a little further back in time. This area of Quicy Street to the Fox River we found out was a fill area. It was a low wetland area that got filled in over time,” said Tom Buchholz with the Wisconsin DOT.
The DOT says it tested groundwater and soil last weekend, boring deeper into the ground by the affected Pier 22.
“Our preliminary factors to that corrosion are the primary fill that has been in place as part of the construction and a combination of the groundwater interacting with that soil and corroding the piles,” said Buchholz.
As soil scientists bore into the ground nearby, they will be testing the pH levels. If you remember back to high school science class, that could determine the acidity of the soil, which could have caused the corrosion.
Professor Kevin Fermanich teaches geoscience at UW-Green Bay.
He says the corrosion to the steel support pilings is basically rust.
“It's presumably mostly saturated most of the time in that area,” Fermanich said of the piling. “So you do have the water interacting with the soil materials and the fill materials basically all the time. And as water levels change, that changes the amount of oxygen in the water, which then also changes the chemistry.”
Fermanich says there might not be a quick fix.
Either the acidic fill soil would need to be dug out and replaced. Or new steel support pilings, which can withstand the soil conditions, should be installed.
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