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WisDOT team investigating Leo Frigo failure adds firm familiar with major structural collapses

State and federal officials put into action a plan to make sure those working to fix the Leo Frigo Bridge are safe.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - Before the Leo Frigo bridge is repaired, engineers need to know why Pier 22 moved.  Friday morning a team of experts, assembled by state and federal officials, put into action a plan to make sure those working to correct the issue are kept safe.  The team of structural and geotechnical experts needs access to Pier 22 and the bridge deck that dropped 1 1/2 feet.                

Over the next few days, measures will be put in place to provide access to the site and keep that team safe.   Local 5 News has confirmed that team now includes representatives from the same engineering firm that led the investigation into the collapse of the I-35W bridge into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis during rush hour in 2007. The incident killed 13 people and injured hundreds more. The company is WJE Associates, Inc., based in Northbrook, IL. 

Friday,  WisDOT survey crews were on top of the bridge, trying to establish a safe zone where crews can move and work without fear of being injured.  Engineers will begin placing sensors on the pier that shifted Pier 22, as well as adjacent piers on Saturday.  Those sensors monitor movement -  much like seismographs are used in earthquake detection.

"They detect any movement and sound a very large alarm, if any movement is detected," said Leo Frigo Bridge Repair Chief, Brian Roper of WisDOT. "This will allow our investigation team to move further into the project area and start assessing the existing conditions."

After the sensors are placed, the plan is to move heavy equipment into the area and to start taking soil samples for testing.  Roper says the DOT also plans to place a scissors lift by the damaged bridge deck, to give crews access to the sagging roadway to determine its structural integrity.  The investigation could continue through next week.

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