Catching Up: Price tag to repair roads and bridges in rural Dane County from August flooding reaches $4.8 million

January 21, 2019

Nearly $1.3 million was spent to repair portions of 14 county and four state highways in Dane County outside of Madison that were damaged by record rains and flooding in August, according to a new report.

Add the $3.5 million spent by the state to rebuild three bridges on Highway 14 wrecked by flooding in the Black Earth area and the bill to repair roads and bridges outside of Madison was just over $4.8 million.

The county’s portion of the bill to repair the highways was just over $735,000 after the state reimbursed it for slightly less than $547,000 for sending crews to repair the state highways in the county, according to Josh Wescott, the chief of staff for Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

The county’s bill could be reduced further by reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Wescott said.

County officials estimated last fall that the flooding in the county between Aug. 17 and Sept. 3 caused $154 million in damage to residences, businesses and public infrastructure.

The worst flooding occurred on Aug. 20 when more than a foot of rain fell on parts of western Dane County and on Madison’s West Side.

It was latest unique weather event to hit the county since Parisi was elected as county executive in 2011. He has also had to include money in the budget to recover from tornadoes, blizzards and a drought.

“There’s definitely been regular weather events, but they’ve been different events almost every year,” Parisi said. “The weather is certainly something that we’re always prepared to respond to, but obviously one can’t control it.”

The costliest repairs were to four portions of Highway 14 in western Dane County that reached nearly $382,000, according to the report.

That included a stretch between Highway 12 and Pleasant View Road in Middleton ($171,945), Pleasant View Road to Stagecoach Road in the town of Cross Plains ($94,428), Cross Plains to Black Earth ($52,553) and Black Earth to Mazomanie ($30,240).

Repairs to the Highway 14 bridges were not included in those costs. Last September, then-Gov. Scott Walker approved a $2.8 million emergency contract to reconstruct two of the bridges — near Highway Y and near the Shoe Box store — in Black Earth.

Walker also approved a $736,000 emergency contract to rebuild a third bridge, in Mazomanie. It opened in late October.

Two portions of Highway G just southwest of Verona cost $213,103 to repair, the costliest among the county roads, according to the county report.

Just under $196,000 was spent to add larger culverts and do other work on a seven-mile stretch of G between Highway 18-151 and Highway 92 just southwest of Verona.

Also, a short stretch of repairs to Highway W between Highway B and East Church Road in the town of Christiana in eastern Dane County cost just over $134,000.

Parisi included $18 million in his 2019 budget that focused on flooding. Much of it involved recovery, risk reduction and improving preparedness. Among the highway and bridge improvements is $200,000 to raise the portion of Highway W that was underwater on a few occasions last summer. It also includes more than $300,000 for pumps, generators, flood barriers and sandbagging machines and $80,000 for an airboat to help with high-water rescues.

All new road repairs also include new engineering to add bigger culverts and other design issues to keep high water off the highways, according to Wescott.

“It has become part of the engineering and design process because now we just assume the heavy rain is going to happen,” he said.

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