The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bridge opens over Turtle River


October 3, 2018

Larry Holcombe/Daily Globe

Government and business officials, and other members of the Mercer community gather to cut a ribbon to mark the completion of a rebuilt bridge over the Turtle River on Cramer Lake Road Tuesday morning. From left are Betty Meinholz, chamber ambassador, Loon's Nest Motel; Sue Schellgell, chamber ambassador, Schellgell Law Office; Jake Saarnio, town of Mercer road foreman; Mike Graige, Wisconsin Department of Transportation local program project manager; Toni Sendra, Mercer resident; Greg Bubolz, DAAR Engineering project engineer; Opal Roberts, Iron County supervisor; Bill Brundage, chamber ambassador, Mercer Lions Club; Maxine Truemper, chamber ambassador; Pam Davies, Mercer resident; state Rep. Beth Meyers D-Bayfield; Donna Seidel, Mercer landowner; Joyce Olson, Mercer resident; Barry Seidel, Mercer landowner; John Sendra, Mercer Town Chairman; Melissa Sarver, chamber ambassador, Associated Bank; Beth Wetzler, Mercer Chamber director; and Jama Johnson Boes, chamber ambassador, Associated Bank.


MERCER, Wis. - Mercer Town Chairman John Sendra was all smiles standing in the middle of a brand new bridge over the Turtle River on Cramer Lake Road Tuesday morning.

The bridge was a longtime coming with many hurdles put in front of its progress, but many people stepped up to help, he told a group of 17 government and business leaders, as well as other community members who joined for a ribbon cutting.

"It just shows you when a community works together, what can be done," he said.

The 125-foot, 40-ton bridge, at a cost of $427,000, replaced a bridge that had two 16-foot culverts that were rotten at the bottom, Sendra said.

"We had to change the road limit to 20 tons because we couldn't trust those culverts and didn't know how long they were going to last. So, we had to do this."

He said they started planning for reconstruction in 2014, but there were concerns of a 44-mile, one-way detour during construction. Emergency services were a top concern. He called U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy wondering if they could get a temporary military-grade bridge to keep the crossing open just three miles from Mercer. That wasn't in the cards.

Finally, they secured a route through Dr. Barry Seidel's nearby property for an emergency road during the construction.

The bridge was built on an 80-20 matching grant with 80 percent coming from the state and 20 percent local. Sendra said another problem arose when the price went up $120,000 over the four years they struggled to get started. He credited Wisconsin Department of Transportation project engineer Mike Graige for helping secure the additional funds, as well as state Rep. Beth Meyers, D-Bayfield, and her office for their assistance.

"Mike Graige was so helpful, without him we wouldn't have got this done," Sendra said.

In the end, an eight-week project was completed in under six. DAAR Engineering were engineers for they project and they brought on Larson Construction as general contractor.

"They did a wonderful job in the short period of time. It amazed me that they were able to deliver it. They were delayed two weeks before it started from other projects," Sendra said. "We were told they were going to work quickly because everybody was busy. I didn't believe it, but five, six weeks and they were done."

Sendra said it was a long process and felt like he had made 1,000 calls.

After the brief ceremony and speeches were done, the assembled strolled back their vehicles along the tree lined road ablazed in fall colored splendor. Sendra, still smiling, summed up the bridge and the day, "Here we have it, just gorgeous."


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