Part of damaged Wis. Avenue bridge closed over freeway

CREATED May. 28, 2013 - UPDATED: May. 29, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Drivers traveling on Wisconsin Avenue over U.S. Highway 45 may need to expect some slow going during heavy traffic periods as crews work on repairing the bridge Wednesday.

One of the eastbound lanes of Wisconsin Avenue over the freeway will be closed as crews work on that bridge.

A forklift slammed into the bridge Tuesday morning, sending chunks of concrete flying.

The concrete hit three cars, and the freeway shut down for hours while crews got it cleaned up. Engineers from the DOT inspected the bridge to make sure it was safe.

All traffic was taken off of U.S. 45 northbound at Bluemound Road Tuesday after an incident north of that part of the freeway.

Additionally, the ramps to Highway 45 northbound from both east and westbound I-94 were shut down.

The closure involves a flatbed semi carrying an industrial forklift which crashed into the Wisconsin Avenue bridge. The lift was apparently raised when the crash happened.

"There was damage to the bridge...some chunks of concrete," said Milwaukee County Sheriff's Spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin to 620WTMJ's Jon Byman. "A large construction-type vehicle with a forklift hit the Wisconsin Avenue bridge...several cars were hit by debris, with no injuries."

She also said the southbound lanes temporarily had to be closed to remove debris.

“I was trying to jump off the back streets that I’m not familiar with,” explains driver Julie Hollingsworth. "That ended up not being the best plan because I didn’t really know where I was going once I got off of 84th street.”

The road was shut down for nearly four hours while crews got it cleaned up.

It did create a huge headache for other drivers in the area who had to get off and try to navigate the side streets.

The Sheriff's Department tells TODAY’S TMJ4 the semi driver was cited for not securing his load and operating a tall vehicle without a the proper permit. Again, inspectors do say this bridge and section of freeway are safe.

A 9-1-1 caller claimed that the truck or crane struck several other bridges, including a Zoo Interchange bridge.  There was no initial confirmation of that from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“The bridge is crumbling and there’s concrete all over the freeway,” the caller said.

That bridge was scheduled to be replaced as part of the Zoo Interchange project.  The right eastbound lane will remain closed for repairs.

"You want to take a look at how the bridge is designed, how it's built, what your options are, and try to repair it, keeping in mind how muc hit's going to cost, what sort of time frame," said Michael Pyritz of the Wisconsin DOT.