WAUSAU, WI (WTAQ) - Lots of folks have already started their Memorial Day weekends -- much to the surprise of state troopers who dealt with a major traffic backup near Wausau Thursday.
Construction crews were placing an anti-slip coating on the Interstate 39 Wisconsin River bridge near the Rothschild exit. And with traffic down to one lane on the freeway, boats and campers heading to the Northwoods were among the vehicles stopped dead in their tracks.
State trooper Travis Wanless said the congestion got so dangerous, northbound access was closed for a time near Rothschild's Cedar Creek mall area. After a long winter, Wanless figured that lots of people were anxious to start their long holiday weekends early.
The DOT says most activity in work zones will end at noon Friday -- standard procedure for holiday weekends -- and the work will resume early Tuesday.
Before Thursday's backup, the DOT expected the busiest periods to be between noon and 8 both Friday and Monday. The agency issued special warnings about possible backups on Highway 41 in the Green Bay area, and I-43 in Ozaukee County.
Wisconsin had five traffic deaths last Memorial Day Weekend. They hope to keep those numbers down this year, partially with more enforcement of seat belt laws in the annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign.
DOT officials say rear-end crashes are more common during the holidays, due to distracted driving and speeding.
(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)