In High Gear
The second season of construction for the largest transportation project in Wisconsin history is now in full swing as Chicago’s Walsh Construction Co. and its subcontractors replace pavement, bridges, interchanges, frontage roads and storm sewers on sections of Interstate 94 in the southeastern corner of the state.
This year is the second of eight that will be needed to widen and rebuild 35 mi of the heavily traveled highway from the Illinois-Wisconsin state line in the south to Milwaukee’s Mitchell Interchange in the north. Construction began in June and will end in 2016.
The $1.9-billion reconstruction project will expand the major artery from six to eight lanes by adding one lane in each direction. The extra capacity is needed to handle a growing volume of traffic that can range up to 156,000 vehicles per day. Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation projections expect traffic volume to go up by almost 50% on some stretches by 2035.
In addition to being wider, the revamped highway will feature all right-hand entrances and exits to help traffic flow more smoothly and safely, and it will be equipped with the most modern median barrier and have the state’s newest pavement design for Interstate highways.
The project is also improving safety by separating frontage roads from highway on- and off-ramps.
The upgraded I-94 is being designed by WisDOT and consulting engineers HNTB, CH2M Hill, Kapur & Associates, Graef, Engineering Management Consulting Services and DAAR Engineering, all of Milwaukee.
WisDOT’s management team on the project includes several veterans from the group that in August finished building the new $810-million Marquette Interchange in downtown Milwaukee three months ahead of schedule, $25 million under budget and without a major injury during four years of construction.
“We’ve combined many Marquette Interchange alumni with some strong newcomers to build an outstanding management team for the I-94 reconstruction,” WisDOT construction chief Ryan Luck says. “We’re also using many of the same management, design, information-sharing, operational and safety practices that worked so well on the Marquette.”
Construction work will be done in phases, with each approximately 4-mi segment bid as a separate contract. Currently, work is progressing on the far south and north ends. Walsh Construction is general contractor for both segments.
At the south-end project, Walsh is adding a lane in each direction while reconstructing 4.5 mi of highway, bridges, interchanges and frontage roads from the Wisconsin-Illinois state line northward to Hwy. 50 in Kenosha County. Valued at $61.6 million, this work is scheduled for completion in December.
It was started last summer, when Walsh and its subcontractors rebuilt the southbound lanes of the highway and the related interchanges, bridges, frontage roads and storm sewers. This year, the section’s northbound lanes will be completed. Walsh is self-performing about 35% of the work and subbing about 65% of the work to local contractors.
At the north-end project, Walsh’s team is working on 4.2 mi of road at the Mitchell Interchange near the airport. When completed, the $81.5-million project will have...