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Highway 82 at the Lansing Dike closed for investigation
Hwy 82 crack.jpg
THESE CRACKS, marked with spray paint on the Highway 82 portion of the Lansing Dike roadway across the Mississippi are the reason that the Wis-consin Department of Transportation has temporarily closed the section of road pending an inspection of the road’s stability.

Wisconsin State Highway 82 between Wisconsin and Iowa is closed for emergency highway maintenance due to high water along the Mississippi River, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced Friday.

Highway 82 is closed at the Highway 35 intersection south of DeSoto and at the Lansing, Iowa bridge.

The closure has forced motorists to use alternate routes through Prairie du Chien and LaCrosse to cross the Mississippi River. The distance to either of those bridges from the closure at Highway 82 is about 30 to 35 miles.

The action to close the highway, which runs along the Lansing Dike, was taken because of extremely high water in the Mississippi River. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department advised Friday morning that Highway 82 would remain closed at least through Tuesday, April 30.

Officials from the WDOT at the site Friday explained that the road was closed after cracks were found in a section of pavement over an area that washed out two years ago. The WDOT personnel were specifically checking the area to see if high water was impacting that section of the roadway.

Highway 82 at the Lansing Dike

HIGH WATER on the Mississippi River, and cracks on the road surface, has caused the Wisconsin DOT to close the stretch of Highway 82 that crosses the river at the Lansing Dike.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 30, 2017, a motorist was killed when his vehicle plunged into the river after the roadway on Highway 82 caved in.

James Walleser, a 59-year-old Lansing resident, was eastbound on 82 headed to work at 4:22 a.m. As Walleser’s Jeep Cherokee crossed a bridge about a half-mile west of Highway 35, the pavement just past the bridge in the eastbound lane collapsed.
Lansing Dike washout 2017
IN MAY 2017 the same section of road was undermined by high water on the Mississippi River. In the early hours of Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the destabilized roadway gave way under the weight of a vehicle driven by James Walleser, causing him to drown.

The vehicle fell into the Mississippi River and Walleser drowned in the vehicle submerged in about 20-feet of water. A 75-foot length of pavement had collapsed after material under the pavement was washed away. The weight of Walleser’s vehicle on the unsupported pavement caused it to give way. 

At the time, Crawford County Highway Commissioner Dennis Pelock estimated 3,000 cubic yards of material had eroded in a 75-foot long span of the eastbound lane.

The county highway commissioner explained that under high water conditions, the bridge constricted the southbound flow of water as it passed through a narrow space increasing its velocity. So, on the south side of the bridge in a backwater area an eddy developed, which eroded the sand under the roadway surface of the eastbound lane.

“We have errored on the side of caution,” WDOT Highway Maintenance Specialist Peter Strachan said last Friday of the Highway 82 closure. The state official acknowledged that rock placed alongside the previously washed out portion of roadway appeared to still be in place.

However, the WDOT’s current concern is with the small cracks that have developed in the pavement over that portion of the roadway that had previously collapsed. 

Strachan explained that the cracks could indicate a settling of the pavement, but the concern was that they could also indicate instability with the fill under the pavement. So if the material below the pavement was unstable, it could erode. This erosion might cause another washout like the one that killed James Walleser two years ago.

The WDOT is sending a crew on Monday to bore holes at the site on Highway 82. Flexible tubes will be inserted into those holes and sensors will be used to take measurements in an effort to detect if there is motion in the sand and gravel below the pavement.

When, and if, it is determined there is no danger of a washout occurring on the roadway, Highway 82 will be reopened, according to Strachan. The road could conceivably be reopened as early as Wednesday, May 1.